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Phuket security, safety, jet-skis under fire during ‘Five Ambassadors’ visit

Tourists and foreign residents’ personal security, safety, beach tourism sustainability, jet-skis, taxis and tuk-tuks were all highlighted as ongoing issues of concern by five European ambassadors in talks with Phuket Governor Chamroen Tipayapongtada.

The high-powered ambassadorial delegation comprised Mark Kent of the UK; Brendan Rogers of Ireland; Philip Calvert of Canada; Karel Hartogh of the Netherlands and Peter Prugel of Germany.

Speaking after a 90-minute closed-door meeting, British Ambassador Kent told the press, “We had a good meeting today. We explained that we are ready to support the Phuket Governor in his efforts in making Phuket one of the most attractive tourism destinations in the world.

“There is still work to do but the Governor has set out his attention to work on these issues.”

But that requires focus on three main areas that need attention, Amb Kent noted.

“One of these is safety, whether that be people on motorbikes, jet-skis or boats; and even water quality. We want them [tourists] to be safe.

“The second area is the reputation of Phuket as a tourism destination. It still has a good image for tourists, but some of the behaviour and the prices charged by tuk-tuk and taxi drivers has led to a fall in confidence and a drop in tourists because they’re a little bit scared about what has happened, so we think this needs to be addressed,” he added.

“Third is the areas around the provision of government services such as visas and work permits for residents and some of the issues around property need to be tackled so there is clarity and transparency and no demand for additional fees which are not stipulated.”

“British tourists to Thailand still come here a lot. It is one of our most popular tourist destinations. We have one million tourists come every year, and the number of tourists to Phuket remains high.

“It is beautiful place. That’s why we want to work for mutual benefit with the governor and officials here to ensure that remains the case, that it remains a very good source of economic benefit for the locals who live here and a safe, enjoyable tourist destination for our tourists.”

Regarding jet-skis, Amb Kent noted, “We are aware that there some issues that need to be tackled.

“It is important to not just have the regulations, but to also ensure that the regulations are enforced and that the jet-ski owners act in an appropriate manner,” he said.

Going Dutch

Netherlands Ambassador Hartogh rated beach safety, beach management, accommodations, competitive pricing, including that of taxis and tuk-tuks, and specifically targeted jet-skis as key areas of concern.

“Most people in the Netherlands are not very fond of jet-skis. They want to know if Patong will change its policy. If it will not, then they will look for different beaches.

“Tourism is a very competitive industry. There are lots of other options in this part of the world to find proper beaches without jet-skis.

“Not only behalf of Dutch tourists and expats am I raising these questions, but I am also asking on behalf of the local people here, as this affects the tourism industry – and all these points could be improved on.

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Sivana Dee

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