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Chinese RV arrivals in Phuket spur talks on total ban

PHUKET: Officials in Phuket are considering a total ban on recreational vehicles (RVs) following a recent influx of Chinese RV tourists parking up at tourist areas on the island.

tourism, Chinese, immigration, environment,

Darawan Naknakhon

Thursday 25 February 2016, 08:06PM

Chinese tourists parking their RVs in tourist areas on the island has sparked talk of a total RV ban in Phuket. Photo: Darawan Naknakhon
Chinese tourists parking their RVs in tourist areas on the island has sparked talk of a total RV ban in Phuket. Photo: Darawan Naknakhon

Phuket Vice Governor Prajiad Aksornthammakul called an urgent meeting yesterday (Feb 24) to discuss the issue with officials from various departments, including Santi Pawai, Chief of Ministry of Tourism and Sports Phuket office; Jarurong Kaewkasi, Chief Policy Specialist at the Phuket Land Transport Office (PLTO); and Col Saman Chainarong, Deputy Superintendent of the Phuket City Police.

Chinese tourists enter the Kingdom via Route R3A, which is part of the so-called North-South Economic Corridor that links Thailand with Laos and China, V/Gov Prajiad explained.

“They come from Kunming to Chiangkhong, in Chiang Rai province. Now they are arriving in Phuket and are parking up at locations across the island,” he said.

“Officials have so far found 10 RVs parked at tourist areas such as Saphan Hin, Ya Nui Beach and Nai Yang Beach.” Vo/Gov Prajiad said, adding that the meeting was called specifically in response to complaints filed at the Governor’s Office by Rawai Municipality and Phuket City Municipality calling for direction in what to do with the new-age travelling Chinese tourists.

In addition to RVs parked illegally and their drivers refusing to move, concerns are being raised about where the tourists dump their garbage and the potential impact of an influx of self-catering tourists who travel on the cheap.

But first, V/Gov Prajiad raised the legality of RVs in Thailand.

“Certainly, these RVs are considered illegal according to the Land Transport Act of Thailand because they are modified vehicles, but tourists are allowed to enter the country with these vehicles and drive on our roads up to six months under the protection of the Customs Act, which acknowledges a vehicle as personal belonging,” he explained.

“Phuket does not have RV parks to accommodate these vehicles. We are afraid that by allowing ‘RV tourism’ on the island, we will have other issues to deal with, such as public health, cleanliness and public nuisance.”

V/Gov Prajiad noted the two possible solutions suggested at the meeting.

“We could ban all RVs from Phuket entirely, and seize all the RVs and arrest their drivers already on the island – without exception.

“Or we could let each district come up with their own rules and regulations, and set up designated areas and routes for these vehicles, with a registration process.

“We have yet to decide which action we will take because we need to discuss this with the Phuket Governor at our next monthly meeting with him,” V/G Prajiad told The Phuket News.

Phuket’s Tourism and Sports Chief, Santi Pawai, called for a “sensitive” approach to handle the RVs already in Phuket, but called for total regulation as soon as possible.

C and C Marine

“Arresting the owners of the RVs is probably not a good idea because it will damage our tourism image,” he said.

“However, at a recent meeting at our office, we agreed that it would be best to stop RVs from entering Phuket. We know there are 200 of them in Chiang Rai. For the ones already in Phuket, we will ask the owners to make sure they leave when their vehicles’ six-month stay has expired.”

Mr Santi pointed out that whatever policy is decided on, it should account for the RVs already in Phuket, and for the future.

“The question right now is how to handle those already here,” he said. “Do we need RV zones? If so, where? And where can they dump their waste? Do they have to park in one spot and be restricted from roaming around, and have their drivers use taxis to visit other areas?

“These are just a few questions and concerns that we need to address, but we must be clear to them that bringing RVs here is already illegal,” Mr Santi said.

Despite his current understanding that RVs in Phuket are illegal, Mr Santi noted the inevitable opennes of tourism in the future.

“Once AEC (Asean Economic Community) fully develops, tourists will be free to bring whatever vehicles they like and they will have a permit for it. What will we do then?” he posed.

“Eventually, we will need to find areas dedicated to receive RVs and these tourists will have to pay parking and service fees, and other charges,” he said.

In closing, Mr Santi promoted his office as the most suitable for regulating RV travel in Phuket.

“We will discuss this topic again in the next meeting. RVs enter Thailand via Chiang Khong Customs in Chiang Rai, and I am sure they just collect tax and gave them a permit to enter, but no one monitors RVs when they come to other provinces,” he said.

“The Land transport Office will soon have to introduce regulations that clearly state that RVs are not allowed into Thailand without a permit from the Department of Tourism,” he purported.

“And they will only be allowed to enter Thailand if they travel as a group or as part of a tour operated by a company. They cannot travel privately like this because we won’t be able to control them,” Mr Santi said.



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jogi | 28 February 2016 - 10:42:03

look's like there is still a growing amount of people try to live in the Thai bubble. it is getting crowded in there and hopefully they all suffocate on lack of oxygen. Thai- mentality  not ready to join AEC. RV tourist's, backpackers and visiting family of of resident expat not filling luxury hotels, nowhere in the world, inclusive Thailand. LOS can try to stuff around non AEC member tourist's, no problem they just take there buck's somewhere else. Thailand try this with AEC members, then they need the big you know what they don't have, AEC will kick them right there.

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Yoda | 27 February 2016 - 21:57:19

Phuket already has a huge garbage problem. Unfortunately the locals throw their garbage just about anywhere without a care. Phuket gov't officials need to initiate and promote a 'Keep Phuket Clean' and 'Phuket Pride' campaign and make all locals responsable for the garbage around their own homes and businesses. Anyone caught littering, an occurrence I see daily...people throwing garbage from their motorcycles as they drive etc, should be fined by police if caught, even on CCTV cameras. Monthly, all the local schools should gather in their local villages and do a walk through with big, green garbage bags, picking up whatever the adults have missed etc etc...All local communities need to provide VISIBLE PUBLIC GARBAGE CANS and that goes for the beaches as well. And all local communities should have REGULAR GARBAGE PICK UP for these garbage cans to be EMPTIED ON A REGULAR BASIS. Education, education and keep everybody involved, it has to start somewhere. As for allowing or disallowing RVs in Phuket, I say it shouldn't happen. If, as the article states, these vehicles are mostly coming from China, there's a huge red flag right there. We all know their track record for hygiene, throwing away garbage, and dealing with waste management...not good at all. Until Phuket locals clean up their own act, how could they possible deal with more garbage and waste coming from Chinese RVs? 

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phillip.mcevoy | 27 February 2016 - 11:08:53

they want to ban RV's because they are a modified vehicle haha almost every vehicle in Phuket is modified 

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Richard Vickers | 26 February 2016 - 22:22:49

My oh my... you just can't make this stuff up. Buffoonery of the highest order. Phuket officials are just entirely clueless on virtually all aspects of this place. Probably the most ridiculous area of commentary by these jokers is regarding their concern for trash and waste.  If they want to see what kind of mess the Chinese will leave behind, head up to Nai Yang on a Monday morning and look at what all the picnicking Thais leave behind... same same. If ever there was a case of the pot calling the kettle black, this is it. And why didn't they mention their concerns about the foolish and idiotic driving by these RV intruders?  Oh wait, I forgot that idiotic driving is accepted here... sorry.

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Timothy | 26 February 2016 - 10:22:36

"Were concerned where they dump their garbage"....Why are you not concerned where most Thai's dump their garbage. I walk my dog in some areas around Laguna and ever beautiful location is a garbage dump. Most of this is from the minivan and tour bus drivers that park in the area. They eat their lunch of packaged food or simply just clean out their vehicles by dumping all refuse right out the door. Same can be said of the area behind Surin Beach. Kids go there at night to party leaving behind a huge mess. Pretty much everywhere you go you see it, but the local officials don't seem to care about it....Unless maybe a foreigner leaves the trash.

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Kurt | 26 February 2016 - 09:24:20

What is the problem for Phuket Authorities concerning RV's?

All over de world are RV's in use, a great way of enjoying holidays.
A RV is a legal car, taxes and insurances are paid.
Such car can ride/stand everywhere legally in day time.

Phuket just has to create a few compulsory RV night stations.
The Parking areas of the Tesco Lotus shops in Thalang, Phuket Town and Chalong are excellent "overnight stations", from 10:00 PM till 08:00 AM.
Create waste collection facilities at these locations, and charge the RV for night parking + waste collection.

There is no law in Thailand allowing to seize a RV and/or arrest (!) a RV driver.
And illegally arresting a driver from China will give Phuket authorities problems with Chinese Ambassador and Consuls.

Phuket Authorities not control illegal tuk tuk parking, jet skies, smoke fuming busses, trucks and watertankers.
So, why sudden want to control a few coming and going RV's?

Phuket's reputation as holiday destination is already gone because of the 'beach handling', the thoughts of seizing foreign RV's and arresting foreign drivers would make Phuket's image worse.

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Foot | 26 February 2016 - 07:01:22

“...Arresting the owners of the RVs is probably not a good idea because it will damage our tourism image...”   and, that image has always been a major concern.

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KCPhuket | 26 February 2016 - 04:42:06

Yeah...would not want any MODIFIED vehicles on Phuket roads. Seen any three-wheeled motorbikes lately? Now the voices are calling for enforcement?? Traveling cheaply? That's the worry. $$$

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Kurt | 25 February 2016 - 22:57:23

Something new to Phuket Authorities, and they already panic!

Big words; Ban and seize the RV's, arrest drivers? On what grounds? Because they don't like these cars?
USA, Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, China, all over the world RV's drive around. And international Phuket Island wants to seize them and arrest drivers? 
Phuket authorities are crazy.

Something new to you? Adjust, create facilities.
Use the Tesco Lotus parking areas in Thalang, Phuket Town and Chalong for compulsory night parking.

A RV is a normal car, can drive and park everywhere legally on Phuket. Just for the night/sleeping stand you have to set rules.
Just create 3 spread night parking facilities on Phuket where they obligated to stay over the nights,( that can be at parking areas of Tesco Lotus between 10:00 PM and 08:00 AM) and provide waste collection at these parking area's.
Tesco Lotus can charge a night parking fee, including waste collection.

If the Vice Governor is so concerned about public health, cleanness and ( what?) public nuisance, than he has a big job to do. Dirty beaches, I can suggest the vice governor to drive to Chalong, drive into Soi 43 ( Soi Anusorn)until the end and than go to the right, A area very dirty , smelly area, rats all over, no proper waste collection, no government cleaning. A very shame , V/C!
How about your continues illegal parking Tuk tuks', V/C?
That is a very nuisance, why you not start there?

Illegal? All these thai motorbikes with a side car are illegal! I never hear a Phuket authority about that.

Now there is something new and instead of facilitating, and welcome them Phuket authorities put their heels in the sand and start anti tourist thinking,.( seize, arrest). Great!

Vice Governor and Santi are overplaying their hands. Again anti tourist thinking. It will make China very happy, hehehehe.

We know about 'thainess', but Phuket thainess is worse.

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stegee | 25 February 2016 - 20:41:42

pathetic!!  'modified vechiles'- just like every sam-lor on the roads.. but hang on- RV's are purpose built- not modified.. “And they will only be allowed to enter Thailand if they travel as a group or as part of a tour operated by a company. They cannot travel privately like this because we won’t be able to control them,” and the chief of ministry for tourism shows a huge lack of understanding of the purpose of rv's...

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