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People found to be breaking the laws on working as tour guides, timeshare sales people and tour package sales people were rounded up in a concerted drive on Tuesday (September 23), questioned at the nearest police station and then released.
It seems as though the suspects were tipped off and disappeared just in time for the police to carry out their inspections.
Police split into five teams to carry out their inspections in the following areas; Soi Paradise, Khok Ma Kham intersection (Start of Rat-u-thit 200 Pee road), BanZaan Market, Patong Hill Hotel to Marine Market, and Rat-u-thit-200-Pee Road to Soi Ton.
“Police went undercover before the official inspections took place, to ensure that we could arrest anyone in action,” Kathu Police Investigation deputy superintendent, Khunnadet Nanongkhai, told The Phuket News.
As a result, three separate shop representatives were asked to go to the police station, one of them located in Soi Paradise, appeared to have the wrong address in the license, and the remaining two located on Rat-u-thit 200 Pee, had foreigners working on the front desk. Some shops were closed, but it may have been a Thai public holiday or they were notified in advance.
“We did not find anyone working illegally, all of the businesses had the correct license, passport and work permit for each of their staff,” he confirmed.
There was one exception. In one shop officials saw a Burmese employee writing up a voucher for a tour package and signing it. They asked for his passport.
Foreigners may not deal with customers in tour agencies, and the Burmese they found, was not registered and so was in Thailand illegally.
However, following the lenient line set by the NCPO for treatment of foreigners from neighbouring countries, the man was let off with a warning. The shop owner too received a warning and was told to make sure the worker was registered.
From the statistics set out by the Phuket Tourism and Sport Office, there are total of 1,667 registered tour operators, which will undergo inspection as of Tuesday (September 23).
Thalang District has 159 businesses; Cherng Talay 56, Paklok 23, Thepkrasattri 16, Srisoontorn 33, Sakoo 19 and Maikhao 12.
Kathu District has 449 businesses; Patong 348, Kathu 73 and Kamala 28.
Muang District 1059 businesses; Phuket city 3, Vichit 275, Rassada 121, Koh Kaew 48, Talad Nuear 49, Talad Yai 85, Rawai 139, Chalong 163 and Karon 176.
“Any Thais found working as a tour guide illegally, may be granted bail but will have to register straight away. But, for any foreigners found working illegally, police will not allow bail and they will be taken to court,” said Mr Santi Pawai, Phuket Tourism and Sport Office director, at a meeting prior to the inspections.
“However if a foreigner is found guilty, they will be deported and put on the immigration blacklist,” he added.
Foreigners are only allowed to work as a ‘Tour leader’, “They are allowed to go along with the customer – but they are not allowed to provide any information, that’s the job of a tour guide,” he noted.
“If tour leaders are found to be working as tour guides, they will be caught as it is not hard to find evidence. There will be a shopping receipt (to get commission), a voucher order and a list of each customer ,” he explained.
“If they are found guilty and we later find them working illegally again, we will revoke the tour operator license from the company,” he added.
Registered Thai guides must go to the Phuket Tourism and Sport Office in Surakul Stadium to identify themselves between September 22 and October 6, from 8am-5pm on weekdays.
“If police find out during inspection they have yet to identify themselves, they will also be arrested”, Mr Santi said.