FIVE European ambassadors have asked the governor of Phuket to step up security and safety precautions for tourists and expatriates, while addressing other issues ranging from lack of standard tariffs for services to narcotics and crime problems.
Chamrern Tipyapongthada, governor of Phuket, which is the country’s second most popular tourist destination after Bangkok, met with ambassadors from the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, the Netherlands and Ireland.
He told the diplomats that local authorities would, for example, ensure that foreigners who rented motor vehicles, jet skis and other equipment for land and water sports, were properly covered by insurance issued by local service providers.
In addition, the European ambassadors said tariffs for various services should be standardised, as they were in Bangkok, so that foreign visitors were charged fairly. Chamrern said the Phuket authorities would provide more information to expatriates who wanted to invest in the tourist resort’s properties.
Chamrern said the European ambassadors raised concerns about road traffic as well as beach and water sport safety. Concerns were also expressed about visitors with visa problems, especially in the wake of a recent murder case in Koh Tao, Surat Thani province, where a couple of young British visitors were killed.
In the past few years, the number of European arrivals in Phuket – which generates the second highest source of tourism revenue after Bangkok – has dropped due to political and economic factors. Industry sources said arrivals were projected to be less than 10 million this year, compared to the peak of more than 12 million a few years ago.
The Euro zone’s economic crisis has contributed to fewer tourist arrivals, especially from Italy and Spain, while Thailand’s prolonged political unrest has led to problems with insurance cover for some visitors. British tourists are among the largest number of European visitors, with nearly one million arrivals in Thailand in 2014, followed by Germany’s 700,000 and France’s 600,000.
Overall, Thailand’s tourist arrivals are expected to total 28.8 million this year, generating a combined Bt1.6 trillion in revenue.