The news came at meeting held in Phuket Town yesterday (Mar 31) attended by scores of police officers, internal security defence teams and high-ranking officials.
Spearheading the campaign is Capt Dokgeng Menmaak, who explained that the crackdown is based on the success of the Royal Thai Police Immigration Bureau’s “Good Guys In, Bad Guys Out” policy, originally launched in 2014 and still in effect today.
“Under the campaign, Thais convicted of crimes will be dealt with accordingly, as is normal,” Capt Dokgeng said.
“But as with foreigners caught overstaying their visas in Phuket, we will be now looking at Thai people who have ‘overstayed their welcome’ with behaviour that damages Phuket’s tourism image,” he explained.
As such, Thais not native to Phuket who are found guilty of “tourism misconduct” for a period of less than 90 days will be exiled and banned from returning to the island for one year.
Those caught “misbehaving” for more than 90 days but less than a year will be banned for three years, while those found guilty of misconduct for more than one year will be subject to a re-entry ban of five years.
Thais found guilty of tourism misconduct for more than five years will be barred from re-entering the island for 10 years, Capt Dokgeng added.
“They will be allowed to gather their belongings and then accompanied by police escorts will board a bus or plane out of here, or they will be taken to the Thepkrasattri Bridge where their friends or relatives can pick them up,” Capt Dokgeng explained.
Thais native to Phuket found guilty of “tourism misconduct” will be permitted to stay on their island of birth, but will be banned form engaging in the tourism industry for corresponding periods, he added.
“We understand that this sounds harsh, but what else can we do to preserve Phuket’s tourism image,” Capt Dokgeng said.
The policy became effective today, April 1.
“We couldn’t think of a better day to launch it,” Capt Dokgeng noted.
UPDATE: Well, it's well past midday here in Phuket and yes, well done to those who spotted it -- This was our April Fool's story. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did!