The Pattaya Marine Department and a marine police unit from Chachoengsao launched a beachfront inspection from Soi 2 to Walking Street in Pattaya Aug. 23, checking permits, boat-driving licenses and jet ski condition.
A number of drivers were found with torn licenses and fined. Many jet skis also were found damaged and owners were warned and ordered to repair them. The vendors were told to report to the marine authorities when repairs were complete before they would be allowed to rent them again to customers.
An officer from a marine police unit from Chachoengsao finds a damaged jet ski and orders it be fixed before renting out.
Damaged jet skis have been the crux of a years-long scam run by jet ski vendors, who cover up dents or scratches with water-soluble putty or paint and rent them to unsuspecting tourists. Once tourists return, vendors claim the pre-existing damage was new and demand, sometimes under threat of violence, payments of tens or hundreds of thousands of baht.
Despite much talk and many promises from Pattaya and Chonburi officials, nothing has been done to resolve the extortion scams since September of last year.
At a Sept. 17, 2013 meeting of an “emergency” committee formed to resolve the issue, Chonburi Gov. Khomsan Ekachai said Thaisri Insurance plc has been signed to provide insurance cover for the 452 jet skis operating in Pattaya, Jomtien Beach and Koh Larn.
Combined with other regulatory changes, Khomsan vowed, tourists no longer would be victimized and forced to pay tens of thousands of baht in compensation for alleged damage to the watercraft. The city supposedly planned to freeze the number of jet skis allowed to operate on area beaches at the current level of 452.
Since that date, nothing has been done to enforce any freeze or require insurance.
Banglamung District Chief Sakchai Taengho admitted to the Pattaya Business & Tourism Association Aug. 23 that the scams are continuing. The problem, he said, is that every attempt to change laws to include jet skis, an unregulated business, has encountered obstacles.
“Due to the complicated and slow process, it is appropriate to call a meeting of new operators to restrict the number and areas of operation,” he said.
Despite the fact that two committees already have looked at the issue, Sakchai said a new board should be formed to solve the problem and enforce rules against those abusing tourists. He said officials will meet again to discuss the issue.