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On August 2nd Mr Somsak Pureesrisak, the Minister of Tourism and Sport chaired a meeting that was attended by representatives of the DSI. The meeting was called as the DSI prepare to launch a major crackdown on criminals targeting tourists in Phuket. The DSI, the government and officials in Phuket plan to deal with such problems that have a negative influence on tourism.
Mr. Somsak revealed that he had a meeting in the past with a private travel company in Phuket to find out who the people of influence, scamming tourist on the island are. The Phuket Ministry of Tourism welcomes the proposed operations, and the DSI inspections providing they comply with the outlines that have been presented to them.
DSI Chief Tarid Pengdith said, from the 9th of August the DSI and the Ministry of Tourism will work together with police to eradicate extortion and scams on the island. Plans include better use of security surveillance both on the island and in Suvannabhum airport to monitor known criminal activity and capture photographs of suspects that can be used in evidence.
Mr Tarid said earlier, that a crack down on black taxi mafia, unscrupulous tour operators and scammers does pose a problem, however there have simply been too many complaints from locals and the international community not to and suppressing their influence is vital, not doing so would result in potential visitors seeing Phuket as an island that is too dangerous to travel to.
The DSI are currently gathering evidence and are determined to find out who is behind black taxi mafia gangs. They will also target money laundering issues and will be implementing the Prevention and Suppression of Money Laundering act to take action against the guilty parities.
Mr Tarid said the DSI will investigate a group of influential criminals and the most influential foreigners in the area where over 200 illegal nominee companies are said to exist. It has been noted that accounting and legal advisers from the North of Thailand tend to represent these groups and they will also be investigated.
Despite many complaints and negative press in the area Mr Tarid and Mr Somsak do not believe it is too late for Phuket. They hope that by implementing their plans to clean the area up tourist confidence will return. They want to see travelers having the freedom to use the services of local taxis and tour operators with no fear of being ripped off or scammed.
Story by Ann Kwanta