Phuket crackdown on loris touts, beggars
PHUKET: Patong Municipality is cracking down on “slow loris gangs” after receiving numerous and continuing complaints from tourists, according to Patong Deputy Mayor Chairat Sukbal.
Friday 16 November 2012, 09:01AM
He said tourists are annoyed by their operations. Slow loris touts typically solicit fees from tourists after photographing them with the irresistibly cute, teddy-bear-like creatures, considered an endangered species.
Chairat said Patong has been proclaimed “a no-protected-species-brought-to-take-photos-with-tourists free zone”. He added that authorities were also cracking down on groups of foreign beggars.
“Police teams have assembled to wipe the area clean of those individuals and groups who bring slow lorises, gibbons, and hawks for photographs with tourists, especially on Soi Bangla,” he explained.
“Rangers from the Khao Pra Taew Wild Animal Reserve in Phuket, the Phuket Provincial Natural Resources and the Environment Violations Division police, Kathu district police and Patong municipal officers have worked together since October to stamp out these gangs.
“As a result 10 interceptions have been made, with slow lorises seized and their handlers arrested.”
Presently, he said, strict and continuing enforcement “has resulted in a clear reduction in the number of those bringing protected species to photograph with tourists.”
But, he added, officials are not resting on their laurels. “The crackdown will continue because such activities are greatly upsetting and annoying to tourists, who continually complain about them.”
Other objects of the city’s crackdown, Chairat said, are foreign gangs bringing children and decrepit elderly “to sit and beg or sell flowers.”
“Tourists find them most annoying,” he said, “and so the city is always making arrests with the goal of sweeping the streets clean – because we want to make Patong a beggar-free zone, free also of people trying to sell flowers to foreign tourists.”
Chairat said the city will continue to be strict with such people as a means of “maintaining forever Patong’s image as a fun place for holidays”.
– Manager Online.