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Tourist safety: Phuket Gov meets honorary consuls

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET TOWN: The Phuket Governor met with honorary consuls from 16 countries yesterday afternoon to discuss ways to improve safety for foreign tourists on holiday in Phuket.

Phuket Governor Wichai Phraisa-ngop chaired the meeting, which was hosted by the Royal Phuket City Hotel. Only the honorary consul from Spain was unable to attend.

After all attendees introduced themselves at the start of the gathering, Governor Wichai spoke though an interpreter to share his views about tourist safety issues.

Gov Wichai said that from now on all criminal cases and accidents involving foreign tourists would be reported by police to both the Phuket Provincial Office and either the consular official or embassy of the party involved.

Police will now have to not only report arrests, but also keep the diplomatic missions informed of updates in investigations involving their nationals.

As for the controversial issue of closing times at nightlife entertainment venues, Gov Wichai said he would like to introduce special zones in popular tourist areas that would allow foreigners to enjoy Las Vegas-style partying throughout the night.

Soi Bangla and Rat U-Thit Road in Patong and Thalang Road in Phuket Town were mentioned as possible areas for such zones, he said.

“But the special zones would only be for foreign tourists, not Thais,” he said.

The governor also spoke frankly on the issue of public transport options for tourists, reiterating that he would like to introduce standardized pricing requiring all independent-hire transport vehicles on the island, including tuk-tuks, to be fitted with meters.

Gov Wichai said he intends to call all of the departments involved to discuss the possibility of moving forward with such a plan, which he admitted is still in the conceptual stages.

Many disputes between passengers and drivers are the result of misunderstandings, he said.

Poor English language skills on the part of drivers and tourists’ unfamiliarity with the geography of the island combine to create confusion and frustration that can sometimes lead to disputes, he said.

As for complaints about long lines to clear customs, immigration and security requirements at Phuket International Airport, Gov Wichai promised to rectify the situation by tripling the number of X-ray machines there.

A question-and-answer session followed the governor’s two-hour talk.

German Honorary Consul Dirk Naumann pointed out that frustration with the tuk-tuk services on the island had reached a point where news about disputes had made headlines in media outlets around the globe.

Taxi services on the island present far fewer problems than tuk-tuks, which grossly overcharge passengers, he said.

Taxi and tuk-tuk drivers risk getting shot if they pick up passengers outside their own turf, he added.

Mr Naumann said that as honorary consul it was important that he also received real-time reports about accidents and deaths involving German citizens, not just police arrests.

Tossaporn Thepabutr, one of Phuket’s three members of parliament, also serves as honorary consul for South Korea. He said he would like the governor to address the problem of foreign tourists who are arrested or fined for driving without a Thai license, even though they are in possession of licenses issued by their home countries. Such problems are compounded when tourists get into accidents with rented vehicles, he said.

Supporting this idea, British Honorary Consul Martin Carpenter added that outfits renting vehicles to foreigners usually hold onto their passports as surety as a matter of procedure.

He suggested taking steps to change this, because people caught driving without a Thai license face problems with Traffic Police as well as Immigration if they are caught.

— Kitima Pornmongkhonwat

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

For travellers to Phuket, testing is out, quarantine is in

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Phuket Vice Governor Piyapong Choowong (via Facebook)

The on-again-off-again plans for testing people for Covid-19 as they arrive in Phuket will be replaced by quarantine after May 15, according to Vice Governor Piyapong Choowong’s latest announcement. In an online video broadcast last night, the vice governor confirmed the new scheme after Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew first mentioned it in an executive meeting at Phuket Provincial Hall yesterday.

There are now 25 provinces on the Phuket red zone list that they instated on April 22, with anyone arriving from those places required to have proof that they are either fully vaccinated or tested negative for Covid-19 within the last 72 hours. Without proof, people have to take a rapid antigen test to confirm they did not have Covid-19 before they would be allowed on the island. The test was first set to be 300 baht for everyone, and later controversially made free for Thai people and 500 baht for foreigners.

There had been some back and forth with budget concerns of being able to provide the mass testing and who would pay how much for continued testing. Perhaps requiring people to quarantine in Phuket is cheaper than testing them when they arrive. The original scheme was set to expire May 15, and announcements were made about extending the plan and stopping testing right away. For now, this debate seems to have settled on replacing the testing with a mandatory quarantine upon entering Phuket.

The vice-governor explained that the rapid antigen test will continue through May 14, and then starting May 15, anyone who arrives without a vaccine or a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours of arriving in Phuket will be required to quarantine for 14 days. They set a goal of zero new infections by the end of the next two weeks. And he stated they are committed to doing whatever it takes as “Phuket cannot continue with this risk”.

Speaking to The Phuket News… “We want to send a sign to the country that we are cleaning up our province. The 3 vice governors [in Phuket] have been ordered to take care of each district by cooperating with local administration officers as well as community leaders to do proactive screening,”

After announcing the quarantine plan for Phuket, the vice governor spoke confidently that in the near future the island will have enough jabs to vaccinate every person on the island. Religious leaders from any faith are currently being vaccinated because of their general proximity to people during religious ceremonies and practices.

Vice Governor Piyapong pled with people with the people of Phuket who were on the fence about Covid-19 vaccinations, anti-vaxxers, or those otherwise resisting getting the jabs needed to reach herd immunity.

“If you are still deciding whether or not to get vaccinated, please come to get vaccinated”

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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Phuket

Thailand News Today | Pfizer vaccines on the way, Phuket’s July re-opening | May 7

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Disease Control Department back-peddled saying that that foreigners living in Thailand WILL also be vaccinated, governor of Chiang Mai is calling for the ban on dining in at restaurants in the northern city to be lifted and for eateries to be allowed to serve food on-site until 9pm, Tourism and Sports Minister insists the southern island of Phuket must record zero Covid-19 cases if a planned July re-opening is to go ahead, and 150 million baht worth of methamphetamine pills were impounded in Nakhon Phanom yesterday

 

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Phuket

We’re looking for a Video Editor/Production Assistant in Phuket

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The Thaiger is seeking a full time video editor and production assistant for a new project based in Phuket. The role is open to a Thai national but with great English skills as well. You will need to be able to work to deadlines with a crazy bunch of stressed out news hosts, guests and the rest of The Thaiger team.

You’ll also need a general knowledge of the Thai news cycle as the content will be largely centred around daily news and current affairs. Knowledge of social media, and especially YouTube, will be an advantage.

Prior work in the TV or video production industry would be a requirement; we couldn’t care less about your educational qualifications. The role would be Monday to Friday.

The work hours would be earlier in the day, probably starting around 7am. There may be some occasional travel to Bangkok involved as well. Salary would be between 30-40,000 baht per month, depending on experience with opportunities for bonuses. The initial contract would be for 3 months, renewable.

If you are interested, or know someone who could fit the job, send an email to THAIGER EDITOR at info@thethaiger.com

 

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