Connect with us

Phuket

Tourism minister gets tough with Phuket taxi and vehicle-rental cowboys

Published

 on 

PHUKET: Tourism and Sports Minister Somsak Pureesrisak has blankly called for an end to the age-old Phuket practice of foreigners’ passports being held as a condition of renting motorbikes, cars and jet-skis

“We are deeply concerned about this situation. Rental-vehicle operators demand the passports of customers. Strictly speaking, this is illegal – passports simply cannot be handed-over to third-parties,” Minister Somsak said.

“Because passports are the properties of the governments that issue them, those who seize them – for any reason – are in fact seizing the property of a foreign government.

“The Ministry of Tourism and Sports and the Foreign Affairs Ministry are trying to formulate a law to rectify this situation, and to establish penalties for offenders, as soon as we can,” he said.

Minister Somsak suggested temporary drivers’ licenses be issued to visitors as a substitute. These would require the renter to prove that he or she already has a valid license in their own country.

“If the individual forgets to bring their home-country driver’s license, or they do not have one, they would have to contact the Land Transportation Office, which would be able to providing a temporary license within four hours of testing the person’s driving skills,” he said.

Minister Somsak did not elaborate on the practice of law-enforcement agencies confiscating passports of tourists while conducting investigations.

Department of Special Investigations (DSI) chief Tarit Pengdith, accompanying Minister Somsak on his visit to Phuket this week, offered a counter-suggestion.

“Vehicle-rental operators should accept a signed copy of the customer’s passport* instead. This means we could still coordinate with Immigration Police if the renter does not return the vehicle or seriously damages it, and then tries to escape from Thailand. Immigration might refuse them permission to leave until the case is settled,” he said.

But DSI Chief Tarit also issued a clear warning: “Regardless of whatever measures are taken to facilitate Phuket’s tourism industry being cleaned up, after we have established our Organized Crime Center for Tourism [story here], we will crack down on all illegal businesses – including dodgy vehicle-rental operators, illegal taxis and other law-breakers.”

“We know of 59 businesses – including 13 in Phuket – that have used nominees [so they could be legally registered as companies], and we are conducting special investigations into these. We have taken legal action against 14 businesses already and are working through the list,” he added.

“Concerning organized crime in Phuket, this is my last warning – you have 15 days to legalize your activities. After that, we will clean up the entire island,” Mr Tarit warned.

DSI chief Tarit also levelled his warning at corrupt officials in Phuket.

“If we learn that local government officials have been involved, they will not be exempt from the full force of the law,” he said.

* For details of how to provide a signed copy of a passport while protecting yourself from identity theft, see the Phuket Gazette‘s Issues & Answers section, “Signed copies of passports in Thailand versus identity theft” (click here).

— Saran Mitrarat

 

Get more from The Thaiger

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

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

Follow Thaiger by email:

Thailand10 hours ago

Thailand News Today | Storm Noru causing floods, death in northeast Thailand

Thailand10 hours ago

Airspace over Bangkok airport closed for airforce parade

Phuket10 hours ago

Four alleged investment scammers arrested in Phuket

Sponsored1 day ago

Segafredo Zanetti Coffee teamed up with Bangkok Airways and hosted “Bangkok Airways Surf Festival 2022”

Thailand11 hours ago

1 year old child allegedly snatched while parents slept

Air Pollution11 hours ago

For health reasons – Bangkok’s proposed congestion charge

Bangkok11 hours ago

As rain pours down on northern Thailand, Bangkok ups its canal drainage

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Cannabis11 hours ago

Traditional Thai medicine clinics offering cannabis treatments in Thailand

Health12 hours ago

Fizz buzz – Will kratom drinks ever hit the spot?

Patong12 hours ago

Four suspects admit they assaulted US tourist in Patong

Hot News13 hours ago

Doctor’s “sorry, not sorry” attitude after alleged hit-and-run of students lands him in hot water

Thailand13 hours ago

Police ignore cheating antics of drunk Bangkok cabbie

Pattaya13 hours ago

Third baby elephant of the year born at Pattaya garden

Thailand13 hours ago

Thai doctor warns against eating bats after ‘bat hunter’ sells for 100 baht per kilo

World13 hours ago

Kamala Harris visits South Korea a day after North Korea fires missiles

Events14 hours ago

Spartan Race to hit Phuket in November

Thailand1 year ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism2 years ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism2 years ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism2 years ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Trending