The order came at a meeting on Monday (July 5) to discuss the case of a foreign tourist sharing a message online in a popular Facebook group focussed on Phuket Sandbox asking about the price of taxi fares from Phuket Airport to a hotel in Patong.
The tourist explained that the price of B900 had been given, and wanted to know whether or not that was too expensive.
“There have been many criticisms affecting the image of Phuket, especially the problem of taxi fares and the ‘Phuket Sandbox’ plan, which opened on July 1,” Governor Narong noted.
The governor subsequently ordered relevant agencies to investigate the facts and tighten controls on public transport fares.
Governor Narong said that after learning about the issue, the Phuket Provincial Land Transport Office and the Tourist Police had been assigned to investigate the facts.
Knowing that the Ministry of Transport had already clarified this matter, Governor Narong said he would like to learn the broader picture about complaints about expensive public transport fares.
“It is a problem that has been discussed many times before the COVID situation, and related agencies are trying to find a more systematic approach,” he said.
“In the past, the Phuket Provincial Land Transport Office has taken measures in many ways, such as allowing outside taxis using meters and the use of the Hello Phuket application,” he added.
“The goal of Phuket is to impress those who have arrived [under the Sandbox scheme]. The transport office has held a meeting with 1,000 public taxi service providers to enhance the measures of SHA+ service in order to meet the required standards so we can impress tourists,” he said.
At the meeting on Monday, PLTO Chief Banyat Kantha explained that the PLTO and Tourist Police in Phuket had investigated the case raised in the Facebook group online and found that the tourist had not yet traveled to Phuket, but had traveled to the island many times before the COVID-19 situation. During those visits the tourist had to pay B900 fare from the airport to Patong.
The fare from the airport to the hotel is currently supposed to be B600-700, he said.
Mr Banyat added that he had checked with staff at the hotel in question to see the taxi fare receipts issued for other tourists who had already arrived under the Sandbox scheme from July 1-3, and said that he had seen documents clearly indicating the fare price of B600 was being charged.
“So in this incident, the tourist had not yet traveled to Phuket, and the fare price was not understood,” he said.
Mr Banyat made no comment on all the other comments posted online alongside the one comment he had investigated, with many foreigners confirming that they had been charged a variety of fares in excess of the alleged maximum fares to be charged.
Of note, the Phuket Tourist Police on Monday released a notice listing the maximum fares to be charged by taxis operating out of Phuket airport as follows:
- Patong 800
- Surin 550
- Cherng Talay 700
- Kamala 700
- Kathu 700
- Phuket Town 550
- Koh Siray 800
- Panwa cape 750
- Chalong Bay 650
- Rawai 1,000
- Nai Harn 1,000
- Karon 1,000
- Kata 1,000