US ‘won’t join Phuket tuk-tuk debate’
PHUKET: The United States Consul General in Bangkok, Elizabeth Pratt, has said the responsibility of sorting out the island’s tuk tuk and taxi problems falls on the Thai Government and she has no plans to get involved in the debate.
Friday 16 September 2011, 04:04PM
Ms Pratt was in Phuket today (September 16) to provide “Outreach” embassy services for American citizens.
Ms Pratt, who began her three-year term one month ago, said during an intrview with The Phuket News today at the Hilton that she and other officials were well aware of the tuk tuk and taxi situation in Phuket.
“I don’t want to shirk responsibility, but regulating the industry here is really the Thai government’s responsibility. They are the ones who deal with the tourism industry.
“This is a large tourist destination and if the tourists can no longer feel comfortable here, then it could have...well I don’t want to suggest what it could have.”
At recent meetings between Phuket’s provincial authorities and honorary consuls to discuss concerns about the island’s transport woes, the United States has been notably absent.
Ms Pratt said this was because the country has volunteer “wardens” in Phuket. The US does not have a system of honorary consuls anywhere.
There were no plans for any US official representatives to get involved in the debate with the local authorities, she added.
The United States’ travel website, travel.state.gov, has information advising tourists to negotiate taxi fares before getting in the vehicle, and other general information about Phuket and Thailand. There is also a Smart Traveller smartphone application available, Ms Pratt said.
“It’s always serious when it affects the wellbeing of our citizens. But if you’re well informed, that’s your best defence.”
Ms Pratt said an independent travel advisory for Phuket was “not appropriate” because the information was already available on the US’s travel website, and advisories were usually time-sensitive.
There had been no Americans involved in any tuk-tuk or taxi related violence that she knew of.
Before arriving in Bangkok for the position last month, she was the Deputy Director of Southern African Affairs, at the Bureau of African Affairs in the US.
Today was her first time in Phuket, which she described as “charming”.
“I want to come back here on vacation, but I’ll negotiate any tuk-tuk prices in advance,” she said with a smile.