Phuket taxi drivers demand fare share

KARON, PHUKET: A group of Phuket taxi operators has demanded a ‘fair share’ of the tourists transported between a Karon hotel and local tour destinations.

The demands follow a complaint from Centara Karon Resort that heated arguments at the hotel between taxi drivers and tour company representatives have scared off tourists and threatened to ‘tarnish Phuket’s image’ as a tourist destination.

Representatives from Centara Karon Resort handed a letter of complaint to Phuket Vice Governor Smith Palawatvichai last week. The letter cited several recent public disputes between taxi drivers based near the hotel and tour company representatives.

The letter highlighted a particularly volatile incident last month in which taxi drivers are alleged to have threatened and verbally abused hotel employees and a tour company representative, causing fear among employees and guests.

Tour operators accused by the Karon taxi consortium of monopolizing transportation of tourists include Siam Safari, Tour East, World Tour, D Tour and Turismo, who transport mainly Scandinavian tourists to the hotel.

Karon taxi consortium representative Supab Prankaew said that the taxi drivers involved in the dispute were angered that tour companies touting in the hotel were not using the local taxi service, and that the tour companies employed foreign representatives who were putting tourists in their own vehicles.

Mr Supab said that eight limousine taxis contracted out by the hotel and about 40 other vehicles stationed outside the hotel, including tuk-tuks and mini vans, were losing out on fares.

The taxi drivers used to make between 2,000 and 3,000 baht a day, but now they only make 200 to 300 baht a day,” said Mr Supab.

“We never threaten tourists. We just do what we need to do to survive, but our jobs are being taken away by these tour companies,” he said.

“About 400 tuk-tuk taxis operate in the Kata-Karon area. Tour companies should use the local taxi service, as it is a job reserved for locals, just like massage, jet-ski and beach-umbrella operators,” added Mr Supab.

Another meeting chaired by the Mayor of Karon was held yesterday in an attempt to reach an amicable agreement between the interest groups. Attending that meeting were taxi drivers represented by Mr Supab, Centara Karon Resort and Turismo representatives, and members of the Tourist Police.

At the meeting, Mr Supab requested that Turismo make use of local taxis to transport its customers.

Turismo representatives said they would discuss the issue with company executives and give Mr Supab an answer next Thursday.

— Pimwara Choksakulpan

Phuket News

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