The meeting was called after a formal complaint was filed by some 50 members of the Andaman Tour Guides Association (ATGA) at Phuket Provincial Hall last Monday (Nov 5), calling for the government to take steps to counter the growing incidence of illegal tour guides operating in Phuket and the surrounding region. (See story here.)
Present at the meeting yesterday were officials from the Tourism and Sports Phuket office, military officers, Tourist Police officers, officers from Tourism Authority of Thailand Phuket office, representative of tourism businesses as well as local officials from relevant departments.
Vice Governor Thanyawat assured, “The checking process of illegal tour guides is still proceeding strictly. Police are continuously checking that guides are formally registered.”
However, Vice Governor Thanyawat also pointed out, “The illegal tour guides avoid arrest by disguising themselves like tourists.”
“So Phuket Police have ordered for a Special Task Force on the Suppression of Aliens to check for illegal tour guides,” he added.
V/Gov Thanyawat also noted at the meeting, “Next I will order the officials with the legal authority to strictly enforce the law regarding tour guides, and ask them to check genuine tour guides for any information they might know about illegal tour guides.”
Regarding the ATGA members’ grievance about having to undergo training by the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) before being allowed to enter DNP-protected areas, V/Gov Thanyawat noted, “There is no need to do this anymore, as registered guides already have to pass the same training in order to become qualified tour guides.”
Regarding the ATGA members’ final grievance about non-guides picking up tourists at the airport, V/Gov Thanyawat said, “There are limitations for tour guides and even taxi drivers holding signs to pick up tourists. It is complicated.
“This is due to the rules set by the airport (Airports of Thailand). We will ask Phuket International Airport to improve the process,” he said.
V/Gov Thanyawat concluded, “Relevant departments in Phuket have to introduce these solutions to relieve the problems that legally registered tour guides are facing – and to arrest illegal tour guides quickly.”