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Phuket Opinion: What tourists need to know

PHUKET: With the confirmation earlier this week that the Phuket Immigration system of ‘red’ and yellow’ cards to warn and deport foreigners repeatedly caught flouting the law has been approved by the national Immigration Bureau chief, it has become clear that tourism officials now need to step up and make an effort to warn tourists what consequences they may face for their behaviour while on holiday on the island.

By The Phuket News

Sunday 12 March 2023, 10:00AM

Toutists enjoy Patong Beach. Photo: Patong Surf Life Saving

Toutists enjoy Patong Beach. Photo: Patong Surf Life Saving

Phuket Immigration Chief Pol Col Thanet Sukchai confirmed to The Phuket News that Pol Lt Gen Pakpoompipat Sajjapan, Commissioner of the Immigration Bureau, has approved of the ‘red card’ system.

However, the system is not to be deployed nationwide by policy, and rightly so. Immigration officers in each province are to decide for themselves whether or not to introduce the system in their areas.

As noted in ‘Phuket Opinion’ last week, local Immigration officers, just like in any other country, have always had the right to issue warnings and even deport foreigners caught breaking the law. The system of ‘red’ and ‘yellow’ cards introduced by Phuket Immigration is nothing more than a public relations exercise – but it is a good one. Tourists need to know this is what they face if they wantonly break the law here, especially when on the roads without any due regard to other people.

The Phuket News wholeheartedly supports Alain Faudot, the French Honorary Consul in Phuket, and Christophe Hemmings, Consul at the French Embassy in Thailand, expressing their thanks to Phuket officials for the action taken in curtailing French tourists disturbing the peace with dangerous driving on motorbikes.

This is what is needed to encourage local officials to continue to take action. The campaign has received much support from local residents all along the west coast, and some further inland, as well as several local consuls with whom The Phuket News has spoken with.

However, the problem lies in the request for government representatives being asked to inform their nationals about the law in Thailand before they travel here on holiday. Most governments, including the French, already have long done exactly that.

The problem is that the warnings sit on a government website, usually for the respective country’s Foreign Affairs ministry. This is likely the last place any tourist will look for travel advice unless they are heading into an obviously dangerous, say war-torn, area.

tile-it - Phuket’s Quality Tile Boutique

Tourism officials need to step up with their own campaign to inform tourists of what potentially lies ahead during their holiday to Phuket. The private sector could also play its part. What is needed is a simple information pack – in print or digital, possibly available in an app, that each tourist is provided. This could be provided with each visa issued, at point of sale when tickets to Phuket are purchased or presented to tourists on arrival.

However, the earlier the tourists are provided the information the better, as it might affect their decision to travel here… and that is exactly why tourism officials are more prone to be “real information adverse”. That position is understandable, but key tourism officials must admit their role in not informing tourists of possible laws that tourists might be caught out, simple laws such as wearing a helmet while riding a motorbike and having the correct licence to operate any vehicle in Thailand. By the time tourists get here, it is a little late for them to start thinking about getting an International Driving Permit… one of the great money makers for local police. Not informing tourists feels more like a ‘bait and switch’ operation.

An info pack, possibly under the name ‘Thailand law and safety guide’, does not have to be an encyclopedia of local laws. The briefer the better. Tourists just need to be aware of the consequences of the main issues they are likely to run into. Including an advisory on local cannabis laws and enforcement at this time would seem prudent.

The info pack can also serve as a promotional device advising tourists of not just local laws, but also local customs to respect as well as even basic safety information warning tourists of the dangers of jellyfish and often lethal rip currents at the beaches during the ‘rainy season’. This last one will become very pertinent soon with road shows recently held in India and Saudi Arabia being touted as successful, with more tourists from those two countries in particular expected to grace our shores in the coming months.

Through no fault of their own, Middle Eastern and Indian tourists have in recent years bore the brunt of being caught in deadly rips. Somehow they are expected to know on landing to strictly follow lifeguards’ instructions while at the beach. To any regular beachgoers this might seem to be a no-brainer, but the reality is that Phuket attracts many people who are not accustomed to surf safety, and the beaches are exactly why they come here.

All of these critical issues could be addressed in one fell swoop, instead of local laws being made public piecemeal by each relevant government department, and often in Thai language only. All we need are the right people to step up and take the simplest of action.

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Kurt | 13 March 2023 - 17:01:32

Talking about vapes? Keep laughing. If the TAT organization has the guts, it should warn potential tourists that BKK, and north of BKK suffers a very unhealthy smog situation. As usual, C-M province is the worse PM2.5 pollution area on earth ( BP 12-13/3). Guess also the C-M province oil refineries contribute to this life/health threatening situation.

SadButTrue | 13 March 2023 - 13:59:07

Now police don't need to inspect tourists pants for vapes. Now police can ask for random money from non-thais for expired bike or helmet, threatening with deportation. Since foreigner can't legalize themselves here, doesn't matter how much you invest and how much you got thai kids, you'll be kicked out.
But naked french arabs, riding 600cc like a monkey, not planning to come again...

JohnC | 13 March 2023 - 09:07:28

It used to be a part of a travel agent's job to provide details of dos and don'ts for countries their customers were booking holidays to. Nowadays most people don't use travel agencies and choose to book their own flights, hotels, etc. so the flow of pertinent information doesn't happen. All the details they need are at their fingertips on their dumbphones but they just don't b...

Pascale | 12 March 2023 - 18:54:26

" and yellow or red cards do not apply for Thai's ?"  What you want to do with them ? Deport them too ? 
@Kurt   " That deep have their thinking about the subject not gone".  Huh, English please ! Btw,Kurt , have you ever heard about being an " An.. retentive person ? 

Kurt | 12 March 2023 - 12:48:02

Kamala Pete, now you challenge the comprehensibility of the Thai   Immigration Officers. That deep have their thinking about the subject not gone.

Prab | 12 March 2023 - 12:43:39

@Kurt,    TAT and the word useful not seems to really work in the same sentence... they are there only for the money i'm afraid...  and yellow or red card do not apply for thais? well well... the cosul sorry to say is totally powerless and i dont see anything he can do a part then bend over  to keep his face.... until police do not seriously do some works here nothing will ever change 

Kurt | 12 March 2023 - 12:43:37

Why the Thai Government Officer lazy to move his buts? Just try that others to do his work. Also snitch promoting instead of going out to do his job himselves. All Phuket forest encroaching is because Government officers are not doing their job, or are paid to close their eyes. They not care about their own Phuket island. What they think they leave for their children, grand children?

Kamala Pete | 12 March 2023 - 11:23:42

The card system is constantly touted as being for "tourists". But, does it not also apply to long term expats, such as retirees? Does a yellow card have a definite "life span", or is it permanently on an expats record for what may have been a trivial offence? Could the system not be used to "get rid of" someone like an annoying newspaper editor who doesn't always ...

Kurt | 12 March 2023 - 11:08:16

.. And TAT could make herself usefull by publicing on her site about driving license issues for foreigners. So Foreigners already can prepare themself in their home countries. Thailand should wake up from lazy lethargic position and become active in this matter, same as it does when it comes to 'milking' money out of tourists. Create some balance!

Kurt | 12 March 2023 - 11:02:20

Good Opinion piece. Like to mention that from Consuls ( specially Honorary Consuls for who Consul activities are part time, with mostly just 1 assistant) are not the persons to do Thai law enforcement works. ( sneaky Thai try). The solution is simple and logic. The Immigration started up all this, so they should provide arriving tourists with booklet/flyer about Phuket's card rules. 


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