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A Russian woman was arrested today (January 6) at the Karon Viewpoint for acting as an illegal tour guide and running an unregistered tour company.
Yuliya Tsybiktarova, 29, was arrested while escorting Russian tourists at the viewpoint. Tourist Police officers also seized tour package brochures from her.
When the officers arrived at the viewpoint, which has views over Kata Noi, Kata Yai and Karon Bays, they spotted Ms Tsybiktarova leading seven Russian tourists out of a van and then telling them about the delights of the area.
After watching for a while the officers approached her and asked her for her tour guide ID which – being a foreigner – she did not have.
She told them she had worked as manager of BJ Holiday on Siriraj Rd in Patong for a month, and admitted she had taken Russian tourists on tours. The company paid her B50,000 a month, she added.
The Tourism Registry officials found that BJ’s application to provide tours had yet to be approved, yet the company was already selling tour packages to Russian tourists.
Ms Tsybiktarova was taken to Karon Police Station for further questioning.
Her arrest follows the arrests of three Burmese men found working in an illegal dive shop on Koh Racha on New Year’s Eve.
Those arrests came on the orders of Santi Pawai, Director of the Phuket Office of Tourism and Sport.
The raid on Hou Hai Diver Co – which aimed its dubious services at the mainland Chinese market – came after a furore over Internet marketing by the company, which appeared to offer dive trips that included catching marine turtles and damaging coral.
One poster on Facebook commented, “Dear all my Chinese friends! Pls share and pass our word to them; Tourist company that provided this advertisements and their customers. It was happened when they were traveling in Phuket, Thailand.
“Please do concern about the rules of places and respect ours while traveling especially diving,” “By these photo pls pls pls forward and pls let them know what should not do. On behalf of [the] host country, we always welcome the lovely tourists [with] good minds but … If you are not … We will not [welcome you] too.” Mr Santi said it was discovered that Hou Hai Diving had no diving credentials such as PADI certification or registration (though it did have PADI stickers), and no tourism business registration.
“Moreover, their Burmese staff have the wrong work papers – they have only labourers’ papers, and no dive instructor qualifications,” he added.
The company was ordered closed and the case has been handed over to police for further investigation. Another two Burmese are being sought for their involvement.