PM turns spotlight on Phuket problems
All problems in Phuket that affect the island’s tourism image must be eradicated, a meeting of Phuket’s administration and tourism industry leaders was told yesterday (May 19).
Saturday 21 May 2011, 05:42AM
Pranai Suwanrath, Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Interior Ministry, told the meeting at Phuket Provincial Hall that the island needed to be urgently fixed.
The meeting in Phuket followed several in Bangkok chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban. Vice-Governor Niwit Aroonrat represented Phuket at those meetings.
The main issues raised by those at the meeting were: the lack of standard fares for transport; extortion; harassment of tourists by touts along the beaches; traffic problems; the lack of any strategy for Phuket’s growth, particularly waste disposal; and the continuing problem of illegal tour guides.
The Vice-President of the Phuket Tourist Association, Bhurit Maswongsa, said the most common complaints from tourists were about being abused, harassed or tricked by people trying to sell them stuff, and ridiculously high taxi and tuk-tuk fares.
Others at the meeting told Mr Pranai that foreigners acting illegally as tour guides were still a problem – the law allows only Thai to work as tour guides. South Koreans and Russians were singled out as the main culprits. Some of them, it was said, have created problems by taking tourists to hotels or to overpriced souvenir shops where they can get commission.
Mr Pranai said although there are tourism-related problems in other places such as Bangkok, Pattaya, Koh Samui and Chiang Mai, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva had ordered that Phuket be given priority.
He said he would compile a report listing the problems and abuses that need to be dealt with, and give it personally to Mr Abhisit next week. He would then return to Phuket every 30 days to assess progress until he feels Phuket is working the way it should be.