EU ambassadors push Thai resort officials to make tourists feel safe

June 21, 2013 at 2:14 PM

BANGKOK, June 21 (UPI) -- European Union ambassadors say they have urged city and tourism officials in a Thai resort town to crack down on scams and help make foreign visitors feel safe.

Eighteen EU ambassadors said they met with Maitri Inthusa, the governor of Phuket province, to urge local officials to adopt a transparent set of fares that would end intimidation and violence by taxi drivers and motorized rickshaws, the Bangkok Post reported Friday.

The ambassadors said in a statement EU citizens make up a sizable portion of tourists in Phuket.

"Their per capita spend is high, making an important contribution to the local economy," the statement said. "Tourists need to feel safe and that they are being treated fairly."

The number of foreign tourists to Phuket has risen from 2.5 million in 2005 to 11 million in 2012, the Tourism Authority of Thailand says.

Tourists have complained they are overcharged by taxi drivers and "tuk-tuk" operators to go short distances. They say taxi associations have roughed up rivals who pick up customers in their territory.

The EU officials urged local officials to adopt strict standards of behavior for public officials such as police and immigration officers to ensure that foreign visitors are "never at risk of extortion."

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