British Ambassador Mark Kent has joined a campaign by the Tourism Ministry to tackle tourist scams and will be in Phuket in the new year to discuss the issue with high-ranking local officials.
In a nationwide television campaign that will run until the end of the month, Kent and Deputy Prime Minister Chumpol Silapaarcha, who is also the tourism minister, appeal to Thais to be good hosts to foreign tourists .
Kent warns tourists:
Travellers are advised to be cautious in areas where incidents are more likely to occur. These include crowded markets, tourist sites and bus or train stations, and festivals. It is also best to avoid isolated neighbourhoods, shortcuts, narrow
alleys and poorly lit streets, especially late at night.
In secluded beach destinations and remote islands, independent travellers should exercise caution. They are advised to avoid all secluded areas and stay in the vicinity of other travellers whenever possible.
Phuket is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Thailand and every year thousands of British nationals visit its attractions. I will be visiting early next year to discuss issues affecting British residents and tourists.
Most visitors have a good time free of trouble, but unfortunately there are some who have problems. We encourage British visitors to read the Foreign Commonwealth Office's travel advice and ensure that they have adequate travel and health
insurance before travelling, he said.
Travellers should declare any pre-existing health conditions and read carefully the small print of travel insurance policies to ensure they are covered for all the activities they intend to do. For example, many policies do not cover riding a
moped or motorbike.
They should also watch out for scams, and consider carefully the risks of renting a jet ski and should only do so from authorised, insured operators. We advise tourists not to hand over their passports when renting something - such as a jet ski
or motorbike - as on occasion we have seen passports not being returned to the owner when there has been a dispute about payment for alleged damage to the equipment hired.
In the event of an emergency the embassy and consular colleagues are there to help. Anyone who gets into difficulty should contact the embassy on (02) 305 8333.
There was a recent article rather emphasising the above dangerous statistic:
Easy guns bring Wild West mentality
With firearm crime on the rise and the amount of illegal locally produced and smuggled weapons growing, there are concerns that a programme giving officials discounts in the name of self-protection is worsening the situation
But one has to wonder whether this gender biased article is rather exploiting the statistics. It seems that Thailand is pretty dangerous for men AND women, and it would seem rather disingenuous to try and consider only aspects attributed to
Thailand is the seventh worst nation in relation to violence against women, a recent report from the United Nations revealed.
However, this record might get better soon as the Kingdom has become a member of the UN Womens executive board and the agencys Asia-Pacific base is being set up in Bangkok.
Public Health deputy minister Surawit Khonsomboon has backed the idea of prohibiting state officials from eating raw fish and raw fermented fish, saying they would face a disciplinary punishment for doing this.
Surawit praised the provincial policy to implement this food ban. Local officials have asked 600 somtam shops to serve only cooked fermented fish and have banned officials from eating raw fish - or they would face punishment. This was done to set
a good example to the public.
Authorities urged people to stop eating raw fish and raw fermented fish, but Surawit said people weren't scared of Opisthorchiasis as they could take medicine to kill the parasite. But taking such pills too many times could cause
Cholangiocarcinoma, he said.
Each year 10,000 Isaan people die from Cholangiocarcinoma, he said. ie the liver fluke parasites in the fish cause liver cancer in humans.
Thailand has been a bit under the international cosh for not implementing money laundering laws in the way that other countries would like.
This seems tied in with an announcement that opening a Thai bank account will soon become more difficult.
The Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) has announced new regulations for the opening of Thai bank accounts. From August Thai banks will be instructed to check more carefully the background and identities of aliens wanting to open an account.
Currently, the only documentation required is a photocopy of the alien's passport and, in some cases, a certificate obtained from the immigration bureau to confirm their address.
Police Colonel Seehanat Prayoonrat, chief of AMLO, said that in the future banks will be required to question applicants as to their reasons for wishing to open an account. Justifiable reasons might include sending cash from overseas to purchase
a condo, supporting a Thai family or being based in Thailand for living or working.
In future, applicants need to show more documents as proof, the colonel explained. No definitive list of additional documents has yet been issued, but are likely to include a work permit or a one-year visa. Aliens might also be asked to
provide proof of their residence address in their first country.
Financial experts say that banks are likely to react in different ways to the new regulations. Some might restrict new alien accounts to those holding a work permit whilst others will want documentation additional to the passport and the
immigration certificate. Others might even require police clearance from the home country.
Existing accounts will not normally be affected although they may be monitored more thoroughly for unusual transactions, deposits and withdrawals.