Pattaya faces Indian boycott over failure to end jet ski scams

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Pattaya officials were warned the city faces being boycotted by Indian tourists if they don’t put an end to jet ski scams once and for all. Pattaya City Hall called an emergency meeting last weekend to address the problem, as tourist police reported the number of extortion incidents has risen sharply, with two complaints received in February, one in March, two each in April and May then eight in June and nine in July.

Pattaya officials were warned the city faces being boycotted by Indian tourists if it doesn’t put an end to jet ski scams once and for all.

Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh chaired an emergency meeting called Aug. 7 after government ministries forwarded letters from India and other countries complaining of continued extortion and intimidation by jet ski vendors who Pattaya City Hall repeatedly has failed to regulate.

Pattaya officials were warned the city faces being boycotted by Indian tourists if they don’t put an end to jet ski scams once and for all. Pattaya City Hall called an emergency meeting last weekend to address the problem, as tourist police reported the number of extortion incidents has risen sharply, with two complaints received in February, one in March, two each in April and May then eight in June and nine in July. Pattaya officials were warned the city faces being boycotted by Indian tourists if they don’t put an end to jet ski scams once and for all. Pattaya City Hall called an emergency meeting last weekend to address the problem, as tourist police reported the number of extortion incidents has risen sharply, with two complaints received in February, one in March, two each in April and May then eight in June and nine in July.

The Ministry of Interior in India has reported that their nationals have been ripped off and scammed by Thai jet ski operators. Officials there urged Pattaya to cooperate with a Thai-Indian bilateral committee and disclose which, if any, of the many promised regulations actually have been enacted or enforced.

City Councilman Sanit Boonmachai said tourists who encounter jet ski scams should file a report with police and then city hall officials will become involved to mediate a solution.

He said tourists should not pay any vendor on the spot, although he admitted some have threatened violence against those who try to take the issue to police.

But taking matters to Pattaya Police at the Soi 9 headquarters may not be help, said Pol. Maj. Piyapong Ensarn, head of the Tourist Police Division in Pattaya. He said victims that have come to the Tourist Police have complained they first went to Soi 9 and were ignored.

As far back as 2011, Pattaya Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome said Pattaya’s police are part of the problem, with corrupt officers assisting scammers in extorting money from tourists and earning some of the profits.

Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh and City Councilman Sanit Boonmachai meet with local police and government officials (not shown) to discuss how to deal with the jet ski problem.Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh and City Councilman Sanit Boonmachai meet with local police and government officials (not shown) to discuss how to deal with the jet ski problem.

Tourist police report the number of extortion incidents has risen sharply as the low season progressed. He said the division received two complaints in February, one in March, two each in April and May then eight in June and nine in July.

Sinchai Wattanasartsathorn, president of the Pattaya Business and Tourism Association, said the Ministry of Tourism and Sports sent a letter to Pattaya to immediately seriously tackle the problem, especially as it concerns Indian tourists, who are vital part of the city’s tourism industry.

He said that if city hall doesn’t finally get serious about eradicating jet ski problems, the city faces a mass boycott of tourists from India.

He said law enforcement needs to be stationed at the beach and any vendor found scamming tourists must be prosecuted and shut down.

This is not the first time India has warned Pattaya about the problem. In September last year, Indian Ambassador to Thailand HE Harsh Vardhan Shringla called on top Pattaya officials to brainstorm ideas on ways to improve tourism from India.

The city has spent years holding committee meetings, proposing regulations and promising to regulate the industry, limit the number of vendors and impose a mandatory insurance program.

Despite countless promises, nothing being done has actually ended the scams.