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Phuket Governor Norraphat Plodthong yesterday outlined strategies devised to eliminate low-cost tour operators on the island during the his latest “Governor Meets Press” press conference held at Phuket Provincial Office in Phuket Town.
Also present at yesterday’s (Sept 13) press conference were Vice Governor Sanith Siriwihok, Phuket Provincial Police Commander Maj Gen Teerapol Thipcharoen, heads of local government agencies, government representatives, private sector representatives and the media.
“First we will adjust the pricing rules for new group tours to have a minimum cost of no less than B2,000 per person per night,” said Governor Norraphat.
“We will establish a central agency to be responsible for the development of qualified professional guides, who are qualified in languages, travel, communication and aspects in their field of work to be line with the government’s tourism promotion plan,” he added.
Governor Norraphat then went on to say that of the many tourists visiting Phuket every year, most are Chinese tourists. Many are visiting the island via low-cost tours, which exist due to competition between companies and tour operators.
“The Chinese market has impacted tourism, such as tourism companies or operators in Phuket. There is hardly any benefit to these low-cost tours. It creates a cycle of scamming and threatening tourists in various ways.
“They negatively affect the culture and natural attractions of Phuket, causing dirtying or polluting of tourist attractions. Tour buses lack maintenance though maintenance is available,” he said.
“One reason is that they do not pay the rents due to the rental companies or pay the rent incorrectly. There is a lack of financial liquidity.
“Also they often have irresponsible drivers who are reckless and lack expertise on Phuket roads. This is often the cause of accidents, so we must enforce a solution,” he said.
Governor Norraphat filed an order to the Phuket Provincial Governor’s Office, No. 8 on August 15 appointing a task force to tackle Phuket tourism businesses, and filed another September 5 ordering the task force to to set up a series of solutions to solve the problems relating to complaints from tourists regarding businesses and tour operators in Phuket.
Gov Norraphat ordered various departments to be in charge of six listed businesses considered at risk of taking advantage of tourists:
1. In charge of restaurant business will be Phuket Provincial Police Commander Maj Gen Teerapol.
2. In charge of accommodations and hotels will be the the Phuket Provincial Chief Administrative Officer (Palad) Mr Tawanawat Kongkaew.
3. In charge of Temples as a tourist attraction will be the Director of Phuket Office of Buddhism Mr Winya Pluskwa.
4. In charge of souvenir shops will be the Office of Commercial Affairs Phuket.
5. In charge of low cost tours / businesses will be the 5th Infantry Division of the Royal Thai Army.
6. In charge of illegal guides will be Tourism Department Phuket office.
“This arrangement will work because it looks after all aspects of tourism problems and create a good tourism image for Phuket,” said Governor Norraphat.