PHUKET TOWN: A major Swedish tour organizer says it will continue to send groups to Phuket despite some misgivings it has about child labor, homeless children and child prostitution on the island. At the same time, however, Marie Hallberg – a Swedish researcher who was at the center of an earlier storm over suggestions that the company might boycott Phuket – will continue her work on the subject. Yesterday Saman Saingtong, counselor to Governor CEO Pongpayome Vasaputi, produced a letter to the Governor from Wichit Na-Ranong, Chairman of the National Tourism Industry Council. Attached to the letter was an email from Star Tour in Sweden to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) in Bangkok. In the email, the tour company denied an article in the Bangkok Post, published in June, which stated that tours would stop. This, Star Tour said, was based on a misunderstanding. It added, “The Star Tour allotment in Phuket is fully booked for the [northern] winter season.” The email said the head office of Star Tour in Sweden had already had discussions with its office in Phuket, in readiness for the arrival of the tourists. Hotels in Phuket and Khao Lak confirmed that Star Tour groups are booked into rooms during the coming November-April period.
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