Area police told to fix jet ski, traffic problems to help Thailand boost tourism

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From the ongoing jet ski scam crisis to crippling traffic, area law-enforcement agencies were quizzed on how they plan to solve Pattaya’s many obstacles to the Prime Minister’s goal of increasing Thailand’s tourism revenue to 2 trillion baht annually by 2015.

Gen. Somyos Pumpanmuang, a consultant for the Royal Thai Police, called top officials from the Region 2, Chonburi and Tourist police bureaus to a review meeting July 18, along with top Banglamung and Pattaya government leaders.

Gen. Somyos Pumpanmuang, a consultant for the Royal Thai Police, meets with top officials from the Region 2, Chonburi and Tourist police bureaus. Gen. Somyos Pumpanmuang, a consultant for the Royal Thai Police, meets with top officials from the Region 2, Chonburi and Tourist police bureaus.

Somyos ordered police officials to make Walking Street a “safety zone” and produce reports on the city’s most-powerful criminals, international gangs, jet ski thugs and scamming rental car agents. He also pushed for faster upgrades in CCTV technology and emergency phone booths.

He said police also need to better inform the public about emergency services through brochures and the media if Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s goal is to be met.

His suggestions follow a July 4 decision by the Royal Thai Police in Phuket to make that island a model for cleaning up all of the country’s tourist resorts. The “Phuket model” calls for increased CCTV use, safety zones, tourist hotlines and crackdowns on the city’s jet skis and tuk-tuk operators.

Deputy Chonburi Police Station Superintendent Col. Pisith Proirungroj began the police presentations with a review of Pattaya’s ongoing problems of prostitution, petty crime against tourists and scamming business operators.

He said police have taken steps to improve security for tourists with the construction of a 3-meter-tall watch tower and six police boxes along Pattaya Beach, plus added patrols until 1 a.m. and aggressive tree pruning to increase light on the dark beach pathway.

Maj. Gen. Kraibun Suadsong, of the Office of Police Strategy, said police are recording information on all entertainment venues and trained officers to speak multiple languages.

Chonburi station Superintendent Maj. Gen. Jumnong Rattanakul said he’d met with Gov. Khomsan Ekachai, who called Pattaya’s jet ski scammers an urgent priority.

Kraibun said officers would follow the “Phuket model” to reign in jet ski vendors in Pattaya, but officials on the southern island have yet to solve their own problem. Jet skis still operate illegally on two beaches there with impunity and a mandatory insurance program has failed.

Tourist Police Division 1 commander Maj. Gen. Adit Ngamjitsuksri has suggested that the number of Tourist Police officers patrolling entertainment areas and beaches be doubled to 80 and that the bureau be given jurisdiction over rental agents, jet ski vendors and street peddlers.

Pattaya Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh also is pushing for more jurisdiction for the city, saying it currently cannot enact many laws to improve security in the city. He said the city is working with national government agencies to give city officials more power.

Pattaya Marine Department Acting Director Ekarat Khantharo said the department is hoping to reign in jet ski vendors by reclassifying 452 boats registered in the city to make them fall under specialized-boat rental laws, giving the agency more enforcement capabilities.

Jurisdictional issues were also on the mind of Jumnong, who complained that the Pattaya area’s other pressing issue – traffic – could not be solved unless local police are given more power. He said local police don’t have jurisdiction on Highway 7, which feeds most of the traffic into the city.

He said if local police could write tickets and enforce traffic laws on the highway, the traffic flow on Sukhumvit Road and into the city would be improved.