The April Fool’s idea was pretty much in line with the Royal Thai Police Immigration Bureau’s “Good Guys In, Bad Guys Out” policy launched in 2014 which targets foreign nationals in Thailand.
However, we are constantly reporting or reading reports of Thais who commit crimes in Thailand, not only in Phuket but also in other tourist areas.
Only earlier this month, The Phuket News reported the arrest of a motorbike taxi driver who had stolen a bag belonging to a tourist and made off with AUS$200 and more than B1,600 in cash in Rawai. The bag also contained credit cards and an iPhone 6 worth about B20,0000, the latter of which was quickly sold and the money spent.
And just this week, the Bangkok Post reported that in Samut Prakan a tour bus driver has been charged with stealing valuables and other items worth B60,000 from five Chinese passengers whose travel bags were forced open while they visited tourist attractions.
Yes, The Phuket News does understand full well that there are a number of unsavoury foreigners in Thailand committing crimes. But are these crimes that really tarnish the country’s tourism image as a “world-class tourism destination”?
The Phuket News is pretty sure that most of the real foreign criminals that are in Thailand are into far bigger crimes than those mentioned above, but the foreigners that are caught and put on show are not the heavy-hitting organised crime bosses that officials say they are targeting, and actually do not affect the country’s tourism image at all.
So now the April Fool’s story looks much less of a joke. A large percentage of Thais living in Phuket and other tourist destinations are not natives of those provinces, but what checks are made on their backgrounds?
How many have a criminal record in another province for crimes that would in the eyes of officials tarnish the country’s tourism image?
It is clear that it’s not only foreigners who are bad guys, but what are Thai officials prepared to do with their own “bad guys” who do tarnish the country’s tourism image?