Phuket was visited by diplomatic envoys from eighteen European countries supposedly to air grievances on behalf of their tourists and work on solution to nagging problems.
This is nothing new. European envoys visit Phuket regularly, although not in such great numbers, the Chinese Ambassador and the US Ambassador recently visited Phuket, the former to complain and the latter to smile and be politically correct, and the end result is always the same. Nothing changes.
This big photo-op meeting is only being covered in the Phuket Gazette and PhuketWan, and from the looks of the video (below), hardly anyone else.
The eighteen envoys will stand at the podium, all say the same things that everyone from the Phuket Governor to the Minister of Tourism and Sports to Thai Immigration to the Thai Police Chief in Phuket all know and the Phuket Governor will nod, shake hands, and pose for photos, and nothing will happen until the next annual meeting.
The biggest problems in Phuket are greed and corruption and nothing will change until these are addressed. The Minister of Tourism and Sports making a 13-point list but doing nothing to fix the Phuket issues is typical.
The other problem is the Envoys. None of them really care – they are very similar to Thai politicians that only give the impression of caring and doing something but don’t really tackle the problems. Remember, envoys are political appointees that are in Thailand to foster relations between countries and not there to make waves.
The solutions are relatively simple, but will never be applied. Here are my suggestions to fix Phuket:
- Ban jet-skis. Krabi has done it, so why can’t Phuket?
- Ban tuk-tuks. Get rid of the red cans.
- Enforce taxi meter laws that already exist. If taxis don’t use their meters, incarcerate the driver and impound the vehicle.
- Ban beach umbrellas and beach chairs (except those owned and operated by hotels). Again, Krabi does this and Railay Beach and the beaches on Koh Lanta are much better than Phuket.
- Ban vendors on the beach. No one wants to be pestered while sunbathing. Once again, do like Krabi and allow vendors near, but not on, the beach.
- Inspect all businesses on Phuket, Thai and foreign owned, and arrest those breaking the law.
- Have designated swimming areas, roped off, with lifeguards where no boats are allowed. Use international symbols to warn tourists of unsafe currents, jelly fish, and tropical storms. Enforce no swimming and no boats out when there are marine warnings.
- Monthly beach clean-ups by those who make a living from Phuket beaches. Major fines for littering.
Instead, we will only see a few articles from the Phuket based news media, and after a few days, it will all blow over. We hear that Probe of Abuses by Authorities Plus International Meetings Win Phuket Governor’s Backing and the European Union tackles Phuket tourism woes but the reality is that this was just a “grip and grim”, “meet and greet”, sit through a boring meeting, give some speeches with carefully selected words, sit and smile for a photo, have a nice dinner courtesy of the Phuket Governor, and go back to your embassy.
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