Another 800 people, including walkie-talkie volunteers, jet-ski operators, tuk-tuk and limousine drivers, and hotel representatives also joined the event.
On a stage set up specially for the event, Pol Gen Pansiri Prapawat was backed by Phuket Governor Maitree Intusut, Phuket police commander Maj Gen Choti Chawavivat and other senior officers, and MP Rewat Areerob.
Pol Col Arun Kaowathi, Deputy Commander of Phuket Police, noted in his speech that there had recently been many police cases involving tourists, which had negatively affected Thailand’s tourism image.
Tourists might therefore lose confidence in the country’s security, he said
So, he said, the National Police were working to ensure that all sections of the police are taking care of tourists. In Patong this involved not only checkpoints but also foot patrols as part of the Patong Safety Zone project.
Gen Pansiri said, “Our government has announced its policy in preparation for the start of the Asean Economic Community in 2015. The policy includes a push for more tourists, with the aim of raising tourism revenue to B2 trillion.
“Before tourism can reach that goal the Thai government has to solve security problems because of the many crimes against tourists in main tourism centres such as Phuket, Chonburi [Pattaya] and Surat Thani [Koh Samui and Koh Phangan] that harm Thailand’s tourism image.
“Tourism records for 2012 show that Phuket is the main destination for Thai and foreign tourists, receiving about 8 million people a year – and it seems that the number will continue to increase,” he said.
“The Patong Safety Zone is our first project to make Patong safer by arresting criminals and and clearing up all crime in the town. That will make all tourists feel safe and help the government to reach its [revenue] goal.”
After the speeches there was a police motorcade along Bangla Rd and then officers spread out across the town looking for crime.