Thai tourism: Rogue guides and taxi drivers

BANGKOK, 10 January, 2019: Thailand’s tourist related crime fighting statistics make for sombre reading with taxi drivers topping the list of culprits with 17,746 arrests.

Tourist Police statistics for January to October 2018 indicated that 12,679 taxi drivers were apprehended for exploiting tourists including failure to accept a passenger.

Another 3,408 taxis were caught not using the meter, while 1,659 were guilty of overcharging or fleecing tourists.

Earlier this week, the Tourism Aurhority of Thailand reported details of the latest Tourism Police Bureau’s statistics resulting from an extended crime crackdown during the period January to October 2018.

It’s the first time that the TAT has released information on arrests for tourist related incidents.

The crackdown results were presented to Tourism and Sports Minister, Weerasak Kowsurat, by the head of Tourist Police.

Minister Weerasak has repeatedly stated in addresses to the tourism industry that he is prioritising tourist security as an essential element to deliver quality tourism.

The arrest sheets make for sombre reading and indicate the tourism industry’s ‘trade’ associations need to do more to ensure tourists can trust tour operators from whom they buy travel services.

Crackdown data from the Tourist Police identified 6,333 cases of unlicensed tour operators.

There were 26 cases of scams that sold low quality products and services at exorbitantly high prices.

The breakdown of cases related to taxi drives revealed: 12,679 cases of taxi drivers exploited passengers and were guilty of other forms of illegal behaviour, such as rejecting passengers;

3,408 cases of taxi drivers reported for refusing to use the meter;

1,659 cases of taxi drivers who overcharged fares.

The list also included:

35 cases of illegal services establishment;

1,406 cases of drugs sold or distributed at tourist attractions;

9,533 cases of crimes against tourists (not explained);

161 cases of mafia and “influential persons,” arrested for illegally carrying weapons at tourist attractions.

The tourist industry is also troubled by guiding problems. The Tourist Police made 1,581 arrests for illegal tour guiding and another 390 cases of what the Tourist Police called “sitting” or “sleeper” tour guides who act as ‘dummy fronts’ for unlicensed foreign guides to operate on their behalf. Guiding is a protected occupation reserved just for Thai nationals who have graduated in specialised guiding courses and are certified.

The Tourist Police says it will continue with the crackdown, but it remains to be seen if authorities are prepared to continue a transparent policy and provide a full report of arrest cases for 2018.

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