Friday, 5 May 2017

THAILAND: Chinese Tour Guide Who Abandoned Bus With Tourists At Roadside Arrested

A Chinese tour guide who abandoned a bus full of tourists at the side of the road in Phang Nga on Tuesday was arrested in Phuket one day after.

Ammy, whose real name police later learned to be Huang Ling, was arrested for illegally working as a tour guide without permission.

After the incident in Phang Nga, we tracked down her address in Phuket. She was apprehended at Dcondo Kathu at about 4:30pm Wednesday, said Lt Col Bundit Khaosutham of Phuket Tourist Police Thursday morning.

Ling declined to say anything or provide any information about the incident. She was later taken to Khok Kloi Police Station for further questioning, he added.

A Thai tour guide involved in the incident has already been charged with allowing others without a guide's licence to perform his duty for him.

Police are also investigating the tour company, Xin Xing Travel & Trading Co Ltd, and gathering evidence to see what action must be taken against them.

Police are hunting for an illegal Chinese tour guide who abandoned 24 Chinese tourists at the side of the road in Phang Nga yesterday evening after arguing with them about money.

The tourist police received a report of the incident from the Chinese Consul in Phuket at about 7pm. The tourists had called the consulate for help after they were left stranded on the Kok Kloi-Phang Nga road.

At the scene, we found 24 tourists standing outside the bus, along with Nipon Choochom, the bus driver, and Teerasak Saehuang, the Thai tour guide. The Chinese guide, known only as Ms Ammy, had already run away, said Capt Pittaya Thanawut of the Phuket Tourist Police.

After questioning the driver and Thai tour guide, police found that they were heading to the 777 restaurant in Phang Nga for dinner.

On the way there, Ms Ammy started arguing with the tourists about some 'additional fees' for the Similan Islands trip they had just completed. When the tourists threatened to inform the Chinese Embassy, Ms Ammy asked the bus driver to stop the bus and then ran off, said Capt Pittaya.

The passengers, driver and tour guide were taken to Khok Kloi Police Station for further questioning.

The tourists told police that they had booked tours with the Xin Xing Travel & Trading Co Ltd. They had arrived in Phuket on April 29 and were scheduled to leave on May 6.

Police then called the company’s representatives to the station for negotiation.

The tour company agreed to upgrade the travellers’ hotel rooms and food for the remainder of the trip, changed their tour guide and offered a two-hour spa massage package, he added.

Thai tour guide Mr Teerasak was charged with allowing others without a guide licence to perform his duty for him.

Beside taking action against Mr Teerasak, we are now working on tracking down Ms Ammy, and are also investigating the company for hiring an illegal tour guide. We have yet to charge the company as we are awaiting further evidence,” said Capt Pittaya.

Meanwhile, A Thai tourist has apologised for taking selfies with a starfish that she had picked up from the sea in the national park area at Trang, saying she did not know her action was wrong.

Earlier on Thursday, the Thai tourist’s selfies with a starfish went viral on social media. She was widely condemned, as there is a ban on picking marine animals up from the sea, especially in the national park area. Netizens called on the authorities to take action against the tourist.

Later, the tourist, who used the Facebook name ohaee nutcha, apologised for her action and said she was not aware of the rule.

She also explained on her Facebook post that the pictures were taken in Trang and her guide had told her she could take a starfish from the sea to click selfies.

Wittaya Khunsan, Krabi Marine and Coastal Resources Preservation Centre chief, stated that investigation had showed the incident had taken place in Trang’s Had Chao Mai National Park and the officers had already contacted the guide.

Wittaya said catching marine animals in the national park area is illegal. He urged every tourist to comply with the rule and preserve the marine resources for others as well.

A local tour guide in Trang was fined Bt500 for catching a starfish from the sea to entertain tourists after a holiday selfie snap went viral on social media.

Meanwhile, relevant agencies pledged to step up the surveillance of tourism activities to prevent similar incidents in future.

On Thursday, the picture of a Thai tourist holding a starfish taken from the sea brought widespread condemnation.

Had Chao Mai National Park chief Manoj Wongsureerat revealed said that the tour guide who caught the starfish had been arrested and fined Bt500.

We have strict rules on tourism in the national park area, and this is a rare case of a tour guide violating the rule and catching a marine animal to entertain tourists, Manoj said.

The park will step up monitoring of tourism activities in the park to ensure no incidents like this happen again in future.

Trang Provincial Marine Resource Preservation Division director Prachuap Mokarat said the Marine and Coastal Resources Department would strengthen surveillance of the tourism business and try to increase the awareness among the people to protect marine resources.

Most of the tourist boats in Trang are traditional fishing boats that local people use to serve tourists during high season, so it is quite hard to regulate them properly, Prachuap said.

However, we are trying to educate the people to save the marine resources and promote the sustainable tourism, because there are not enough officers to guard the big sea. We are sure that if the people realise the importance of marine life, they will preserve it dearly.