TAT boss worries over child abuse

PHUKET: A major Scandinavian tour operator may stop sending tourists to Phuket if the authorities cannot stop child prostitution and other forms of abuse on the island, the local TAT boss warned yesterday. In a meeting at the Phuket Provincial Meeting Hall, Anupharp Thirarath, director of the TAT Phuket office, said that he had met a Swedish researcher looking into child labor, homeless children and child prostitution and into the efforts of Sweden’s Star Tour Co to improve Phuket’s record on child abuse. K. Anupharp said that the researcher, during an interview with him as part of her project, had told him that Star Tour had received complaints from customers who had seen children working as beggars or being offered for sex. Star Tour, she explained, had then asked a number of customers to report what they saw during their vacation in Phuket. These people had confirmed the complaints. They noted that, in particular, young boys were targets in the sex trade. She said that Star Tour specializes in family-oriented vacations, and added that she thought that the company might pull out of Phuket if these problems were not solved. K. Anupharp told the meeting, “Star Tour is a Swedish operator which sends about 100,000 Scandinavian tourists a year to Phuket, out of a total of about 200,000 Scandinavian visitors a year.” Governor CEO Pongpayome Vasaputi said that he believed the child sex problem was being perpetuated and supported by groups of foreigners. “We don’t have a policy to support these problems and have tried to suppress them,” said the governor. “In my opinion, I think Thais don’t have the taste to do obscene things to children, especially in Phuket. If Thais want to do it, they might go to Bangkok or other provinces that have reputations [for catering to this form of perversion]. “In Phuket, I think it’s the business of some groups, which are very difficult to investigate and arrest.” Gov Pongpayome added that he planned to coordinate with Region 8 [Southern] Police and the Royal Thai Police to handle the issue. Pamuke Achariyachai, President of Phuket Chamber of Commerce and the Chairman of the Kata Group of hotels, told the Gazette, “In the past, we seldom saw boy prostitutes in Thailand because it is not Thais’ taste. It is the taste of some abnormal foreigners. “As we have seen, foreigners are often arrested because of distributing obscene videos and hiring boys to sleep with. “I think that everyone who has the authority to solve these issues should to be on the lookout for problems and inform the provincial authorities,” K. Pamuke added.

Phuket News

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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