Phuket tourist court to debut Tuesday
- Published: 21/09/2013 at 03:15 PM
- Online news:
A court to make quick rulings on all conflicts involving tourists will open in Phuket on Tuesday in an attempt to bolster the tourism image of the resort island.
The debut of the Phuket court follows one in Pattaya, which opened on Sept 5. It handles civil and criminal cases lodged by local and foreign tourists.
Suvarnabhumi Airport will also open a courtroom for foreign plaintiffs on Monday, with a plan to set up a court by the Courts of Justice and the Tourism and Sports Ministry in the pipeline.
Like the one in Pattaya, the Phuket court is part of the tourism division at the Phuket provincial court, with staff members specifically to serve tourists and a prompt ruling process, as fast as one day in some cases.
Virat Chinvinitkul, secretary-general of the Courts of Justice, said the court in Phuket was needed to help visitors to the island, which is become a world-famous destination.
Ministry spokesman Vachara Kannika said on Saturday that the Phuket court could help improve the image of the island in the longer term.
"Don't talk about the court about how to improve the image of Phuket now," he said. "The first thing is to solve problems in Phuket for tourists. The court will be a solution to that.
"Credit should go to the Court of Justice for its serious attempt to solve the problems."
The first case to go before the court for tourists involved a speedboat accident in Pattaya on Aug 28.
The family members of the two Chinese tourists killed in the accident lodged a complaint for compensation to the court after it opened on Sept 5.
The two Chinese died when a speedboat, the Chok Suwannee 17, carrying 28 visitors back to Pattaya from Koh Larn struck the mooring chain of another tourist boat just before Bali Hai Cape.
The court on Sept 6 ordered the boat operator to pay 2.6 million baht each to the families of the deceased in compensation for their loss, according to Mr Vachara.
Phuket has been facing a growing number of complaints by tourists about scams and extraordinary fees charged to foreigners by tuk tuk and taxi drivers. The European Union and some European diplomats urged the government in June to solve those problems for their nationals or the EU would have to post warnings to tourists planning to come to Phuket.
The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) responded in August by naming 11 influential individuals and groups to be targeted by a new centre launched to crack down on abuses against tourists on the island.
Mr Vachara said that the success of the court would help promote tourism to Thailand as a country with mechanisms in place to protect tourists from unfair treatment.
"In fact, Phuket should have been the first location of the court given the problems for tourists there," he said.
The project was mooted about three months ago by the ministry, police and the Court of Justice after a series of well-publicised incidents involving tourists caused many countries to express grave concern about visiting Thailand.
Tourism is a key driver of the Thai economy.
About 10 million foreign tourists came to Phuket in the first 11 months of the fiscal year to August. The Tourism Authority of Thailand's Phuket office projected 12 million visitors by the end of this month.
Office director Charnchai Duangjit on Friday forecast 14 million visitors in the next fiscal year with wealthy tourists from China, Russia, Germany and Australia to be the main targets.
The Court of Justice and the ministry plan to set up more tourist courts in Chiang Mai, Koh Samui in Surat Thani, Bangkok and possibly Suvarnabhumi Airport in the future.
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Writer: Saritdet Marukatat and Achadtaya Chuenniran