Col Anotai Jindamanee presided over the meeting for the project named ‘Being Good Host’ this afternoon, attended by officials and local business owners including Preechawut “Prab” Keesin, head of the Pisona Group of companies and son of long-time former Patong Mayor, Pian Keesin.
Col Anotai told The Phuket News today, “The main goal of the project is to address the issues that are impacting tourism in Patong and to promptly repair the area’s image.
“The negative impact that Patong’s image is having on its livelihood is reflected in the decline in tourist numbers and revenue,” Col Anotai stressed. “Videos and stories of taxi and tuk-tuk drivers overcharging and attacking tourists have circulated social media numerous times and this is having a detrimental effect on people trying to make a living here.”
One such video that emerged online in March drew much attention when six people comprising tuk-tuk drivers and at least one motorbike taxi driver were filmed viciously beating two tourists from the UAE in front of Malin Plaza in Patong. (See story here.)
The incident prompted a Royal Thai Army Commander to call on the Chief of the Phuket Land Transport Office (PLTO) to set up an ‘attitude adjustment’ briefing for Patong tuk-tuk and taxi drivers. (See story here.)
Aside from tourism-related offences, Phuket’s taxi drivers have been known even to turn on each other. On March 7, one taxi driver shot another dead in broad daylight at a taxi rank in Patong following an argument. (See story here.)
And more recently, a ‘joke’ that got out of hand between two taxi drivers in Thalang on the morning of May 26 ended with one stabbing the other in the chest. (See story here.)
Col Anotai spoke of the importance of getting local business representatives onboard to share their opinions on possible solutions to the problem.
“I need input from local businesses. Patong Development Foundation have confirmed their cooperation with the project.
“I expect the project to commence very soon. Further plans will be made in due course,” he added.