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28-07-12, 03:06 AM #1Paknam Web Online Staff
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Ministry in tourist safety drive following complaints
Ministry in tourist safety drive
Published: 28/07/2012 at 02:30 AMNewspaper section: News
The Foreign Ministry has called on state agencies to boost protection for foreign tourists following a spate of complaints lodged at Thai embassies around the world.
The ministry issued the call yesterday at a meeting with officials from the Interior, Tourism and Sports ministries as well as the governors of 10 provinces popular among overseas visitors.
These provinces were Chiang Mai, Phuket, Chon Buri, Songkhla, Surat Thani, Krabi, Chiang Rai, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Rayong and Trat.
The meeting was aimed at addressing safety concerns of foreign tourists.
The Foreign Ministry reported that at least 15 complaints were lodged recently at Thai embassies regarding the safety of foreign tourists in Thailand. One of them concerned tourists being threatened and forced to pay exorbitant amounts of money to repair non-existent damage to rented jet skis on Thai beaches.
Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said the meeting discussed several measures to better protect foreign tourists.
They agreed to set up more closed circuit television cameras in the 10 provincial capitals.
They also agreed to urge police to provide more patrols along beaches and at other tourist spots in the provinces, Mr Surapong said.
He said the meeting agreed to set up more tourist information centres in the provinces and ensure each one had staff members who, combined, can speak at least seven foreign languages such as English, French and German.
"[From now on] we should launch a public campaign stressing to Thais that [foreign] tourists are guests, not targets," he said.
"These [foreign] tourists bring lots of revenue to the country."
Mr Surapong said the meeting's results will soon be discussed with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
Mr Surapong also said he will invite directors of private hospitals to discuss the problem of rising medical costs.
"I have had many complaints from Middle Eastern people travelling to Thailand for medical treatment about unreasonably high charges," he said.
Mr Surapong said he feared that if this problem is allowed to continue, many foreigners would travel elsewhere to receive medical treatment since competition in the healthcare sector is fierce in the region.
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