Members of the Andaman Tour Bus Association (ATBA) met representatives from the Phuket Tourism and Sport office and four gem retailers yesterday (Aug 22) and submitted a letter stating that because they are using their own buses to transport customers to and from their outlets local drivers are now facing a shortage of work.
ATBA president Mr Chonnawee Ektwensakul said, “Many companies have ordered buses which they use to carry tourists in Phuket. This has caused local tour operators and drivers to lose their jobs during low season.
“We want local officials to know that drivers belonging to ATBA are facing problems and want them solved fast.
“Small entrepreneurs are causing a price war with operators from other provinces that came to operate in Phuket, and they offer discount prices. We also have to compete with jewellery shops who provide their own buses for their customers,” he said.
“At present ATBA has 500 buses and 130 members. What we want is for the Royal Gems, Gems Gallery Phuket, Wang Thalang and Royal Gems Pavilion to stop bringing buses from other provinces to service tourists in Phuket.
“We have already asked for these companies to review their policies, and after submitting our request they say they that do not have such a policy,” he added.
Ms Walairat Kanthong, a secretary from Royal Gems Co, said that she will forward the letter to her superiors, but she also insisted that their company does not have a policy of bringing buses from outside of Phuket to service their customers.
“Most of the time we contact tour agents and have never agreed about bring buses in to service customers,” she said.
Gems Gallery Phuket Manager Mr Chatchawan Onlaied reiterated Ms Walairat’s statement that his company does not bring outside companies here to transport customers.
In April 19, more than 50 people from the ATBA gathered at Chai Field, across from Phuket Provincial Hall to urge officials to protect the island’s tour bus industry.
The group called for all factions of the industry to join the association in order to resolve disputes, especially to resolve the issue of tour companies in Phuket hiring buses and drivers from off-island. (See story here.)