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Monday, August 18, 2014

TAT collaborates with the Department of Tourism to eradicate jet ski scams

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) recently announced a plan to work with the Department of Tourism, under the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, to resolve the issue of tourists being scammed by corrupt jetski operators.


This move comes after the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) issued a command to clean up and regulate the business of jet skis in many of Thailand’s famous beach destinations.

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Jet ski scams have been damaging the reputation of Thailand’s tourist sector for some time.  Most often, having returned a rented jet ski, tourists are told that they have damaged it and have to pay a hefty repair (up to 100,000 Baht in some cases) fee for breaks and scratches that were already present. These large fines are often extracted under the threat of violence, and many tourists have taken the step of lodging complaints with their national embassies after being scammed by jetski operators.

Pattaya and Phuket are the two main destinations where tourists have been scammed and the practice is so well known that there is a video on YouTube which shows the conmen in action, posted as a warning to other tourists.

Mr. Thawatchai Arunyik, TAT Governor said, ‘Because of the many reports lodged about these scams, the NCPO has ordered that the problem be tackled immediately. The move is one of several measures put in place by the NCPO to help restore the confidence of tourists visiting the kingdom. To bring an end to rip-offs and scams, new regulations will be put in place and more ethical working practices encouraged.”

The “Jet Ski Rental Service Standards”, which are coming into force, require that operators have at least a three-month legal business license tied to a permanent address as well as a valid insurance policy. In addition, certified supervisors with first-aid training must be present at all time. To ensure ethical and transparent services for tourists, jetski operators must clearly display the service fees as well as terms and conditions.

Rental shops complying with the new service standards will be issued with a ‘Merry Elephant’ logo by the Department of Tourism to display. This emblem acts as a guarantee that they are trusted jetski operators.
The regulations also extend to the safety of tourists using this equipment. Anyone hiring a jet ski will have to pass an assessment test before they are allowed to take it out on the water. Once they pass this test they are still required to wear standard safety vests at all times.

The TAT Governor said “As we strive to improve the image of the country’s tourism industry, it is vital that all jet ski businesses understand that such standards are vital and that they have to improve their quality of service, staff training and business ethics. They also have to bring to the attention of the authorities any operators who are involved with scams and damaging the reputation of Thailand, so that they can be prosecuted and forced out of business.”

“We hope that these new regulations will lead to higher standards and that tourists can enjoy some of the fun water sports Thailand can offer without worrying that they are going to be ripped off by operators.”
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