TAT blamed for inaction on illegal Korean guides

PHUKET: An angry crowd of some 25 Thai tour guides and travel agents marched on Phuket Provincial Hall on November 30, demanding government action over Korean tour guides working illegally in the province.

Some members of the group carried signs demanding that Suwalai Pinpradab, Director of Tourism Authority of Thaliand’s Southern Region 4 office, step down to take responsibility for the issue.

The group delivered a formal letter of complaint addressed to Phuket Governor Niran Kanlayanamit accusing the government of tacitly accepting Korean tour guides working in the province, which they claimed is threatening the livelihoods of registered Thai tour guides.

The letter also accused tour operators employing illegal Korean guides of selfishness and bribing government officials, in addition to labor law violations.

“Some government officers involved in tourism get money from guides so they can work in Phuket without a work permit,” the letter alleged.

The letter read: “We have had this problem for more than 10 years. Many government departments have tried, but none have managed to solve this problem, especially the TAT, which has been more concerned with bringing more Korean tourists to Phuket than with the quality of the tour guides serving them.”

The crowd dispersed after Governor Niran appointed Vice-Governor Vorapoj Rattasima to chair an immediate meeting to discuss the allegations with the protectors, represented by Phuket Professional Guide Association President Panompol Thummachartaiyom.

After the two-hour session, V/Gov Worapoj was candid about the results.

“We have yet to come up with any solutions to these problems. In the meeting I gave everyone a chance to state their problems and speak honestly. I will raise all the issues we discussed with the Governor. We aim to come up with a solution within two weeks. We will try our best to compromise to maintain our relations with both countries.”

Governor Niran explained that many Koreans had requested that he grant them work permits so that they can work legally in Phuket.

“The Labor Department refuses to issue them work permits, so they have filed complaints at the Administrative Court. I cannot blacklist them because they have the right to apply for a work permit,” he said.

Phuket News
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