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Tuk-tuk, jet-ski, taxi scams: Ambassadors name the bane of Phuket

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Tuk-tuk, jet-ski, taxi scams: Ambassadors name the bane of Phuket | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: In their first official visit to Phuket, the British, Canadian and Dutch Ambassadors to Thailand today plainly described their chief concerns about the scams and cheats continuing to plague Phuket’s tourism industry.

Speaking with Phuket Governor Maitri Inthusut at Provincial Hall this afternoon, ambassadors Mark Kent of the UK, Philip Calvert of Canada and Joan Boer of the Netherlands focused on why tuk-tuk and taxi drivers are continuing to charge tourists in Phuket higher fares than are charged elsewhere in the country.

They also asked why metered taxis are not as common in Phuket as they are in other major tourist destinations across Thailand, including Bangkok and Chiang Mai.

“They are very concerned about why taxis are so expensive compared with other tourist areas in Thailand,” Governor Maitri said.

The governor explained to the ambassadors the steps Phuket authorities have taken in recent months in an attempt to regulate taxi drivers.

Phuket Land Transport Office [PLTO] chief Teerayut Prasertpol, who was present at the meeting explained further, “The PLTO is trying to get metered taxi drivers to charge by the meter, but the drivers do not want to because if they charged only by the meter they would not make enough as a living.”

“This has also deterred any private investors from even wanting to start a metered taxi service company,” Gov Maitri added.

British Ambassador Kent also introduced the governor to the website Phukettuktuks.com, which lists incident after incident of tourists in Phuket being cheated, scammed and even violently attacked by tuk-tuk and taxi drivers.

“The police are doing their best, but there is a serious shortage of officers in Phuket,” Gov Maitri replied.

Ambassador Boer specifically cited his concern about jet-ski operators keeping tourists’ passports as a condition of renting jet-skis.

However, Phuket Marine Office chief Phuripat Theerakulpisut replied that keeping customers’ passports was a practice of the past.

“They no longer do this, and I passed that message along to Ambassador Boer,” Governor Maitri explained.

In addition to sharing his concern over the fares charged by tuk-tuk and taxi drivers in Phuket, Canadian Ambassador Calvert also raised the issue of the media using photos of dead bodies and photos of passports in news stories.

Despite the contentious nature of the chief concerns discussed today, Ambassador Kent was supportive of the Thai government’s efforts to resolve Phuket’s perennial problems.

“Most tourists who come to Phuket enjoy their holidays and have a good time,” he said.

He also praised the governor’s willingness to work with embassy officials in tackling the major issues affecting Phuket.

As a closing note, Ambassador Kent also praised the government’s efforts in raising the number of motorbike riders and passengers in Phuket who wear crash helmets.

“I think the government has done a great job in getting people to wear helmets – you can see it just driving around the island,” he said.

— Chutharat Plerin

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Tourism

Phuket prepares to welcome first Chinese tourists in over 6 months

Maya Taylor

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Phuket prepares to welcome first Chinese tourists in over 6 months | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Jing Daily

The first group of tourists to arrive under Thailand’s new Special Tourist Visa scheme are expected to land in Phuket on October 8. The Bangkok Post reports that a flight from Guangzhou in southern China will carry 120 tourists, who will spend their first 14 days in alternative state quarantine. They are reported to be travelling under the government’s new STV.

Arrivals who do not pass the initial health screening will be transferred to specially chosen hospitals, as “Patients under Investigation”. Those who do pass the screening will be transported to alternative state quarantine once they’ve gone through immigration processing.

A Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration spokesperson says the resort islands of Phuket and Koh Samui will be the first to welcome travellers under the Special Tourist Via scheme. He pointed out that Guangzhou has not recorded any new cases of the Covid-19 virus for a prolonged period, meaning next week’s tourist arrivals are deemed “low risk”. His assertion is confirmed from the official figures at worldometer.info website recording world Covid-19 cases.

The CCSA reports that there will be a limit of 300 foreign tourists admitted each week, but this will be reviewed after the first phase of the re-opening. All arrivals will be subject to 14 day quarantine, although the Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn has suggested reducing this to 7 days eventually. The CCSA says they are not considering reducing the quarantine time at this stage.

Thiravat Hemachudha from the Thai Red Cross Emerging Infectious Disease Health Science Centre is not opposed to the idea.

“We can study this with foreign visitors who will arrive next month. During the 14 day quarantine they will be tested on the first, the seventh and the fourteenth day. If they are free of infections, we can shorten the quarantine to 7 days.”

However, not all are in agreement, with a doctor from Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University cautioning against any shortening of the quarantine period.

Meanwhile, Phuket governor, Narong Woonsiew, says the province is ready to welcome the new arrivals, with Covid-19 labs in place at Phuket airport, and officials due to carry out a full dress rehearsal today.

Thanit Sermkaew, chief of the Phuket Public Health Office, says over 1,200 rooms at 9 hotels have been chosen as alternative state quarantine properties, with a total of 73 hotels, providing over 5,800 rooms, applying for consideration.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Phuket

Woman arrested for abandoning newborn baby on a bench in Phuket

Caitlin Ashworth

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Woman arrested for abandoning newborn baby on a bench in Phuket | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Siangtai/Newshawk Phuket

Police tracked down and arrested a Burmese woman who allegedly left her newborn baby on a bench in Phuket’s Patong area last week. The mother faces charges of abandoning a baby.

The newborn was left in a reusable shopping bag on a bench behind a Krungthai Bank branch. A woman in the area heard the baby crying and found the newborn in the bag along with a bottle of milk, diapers and clothing. Police reviewed surveillance camera footage shows a woman, police later identified as Ei Ei Phyu, leaving the bag on the bench.

Police say the woman gave birth on September 9 at a local hospital in Surat Thani’s Phun Phin district. Ei Ei allegedly took a van from Surat Thani to Phuket on September 22 and stayed with a friend in Patong. The early the next morning, she allegedly left her baby on the bench before boarding a bus back to Surat Thani.

Burmese workers in the Patong area told police Ei Ei used to work at a local Indian food restaurant before she moved to Surat Thani to work as a rubber tapper. Ei Ei allegedly told police she is not in the position to raise a child.

In earlier reports, police said the baby is healthy and does not appear to have any injuries.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand

Phuket police arrest 6 after finding large amounts of methamphetamine in raid

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Phuket police arrest 6 after finding large amounts of methamphetamine in raid | The Thaiger

Phuket Provincial Police have arrested 6 people after finding large amounts of methamphetamine and other drugs during a raid. One suspect alone allegedly had 7.6 kilograms of crystal meth (ya ice) and over 12,500 methamphetamine pills (ya bah). 29 year old Surasak ‘Bank’ Wijit and 27 year old Panida ‘Mei’ Saeyang were arrested at an apartment car park in Soi Lookkaew, Moo 6, Rassada, in eastern Phuket, after they were found in possession of the drugs.

Police also found 2 mobile phones and a red Honda PCX, registered in Phuket, as evidence. Both suspects have been charged with posessing a Category 1 drug with the intent to sell.

Other suspects arrested at the same time include 36 year old from Chiang Rai, 42 year old Sarawut ‘An’ Srichanon, from Ranong and 31 year old Pornthep ‘Iew’ Thepchampa, who were charged with the same crimes in Chalong after police found more drugs in their possession. 33 year old Kamon ‘Kung’ Sae-ngow, was arrested as well after police found kratom juice and leaves at a house in Rassada. He was taken to Phuket City Police station and was charged with a Category 5 drug possession.

SOURCE:The Phuket News

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