Pattaya officials try talking out jet ski problem

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Pattaya officials again summoned beachfront jet ski operators, pleading with them to bring the scam artists in their midst into line, but taking no other actual corrective measures to end the extortion that has ruined the city’s reputation.

Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh hosted the chat with vendors at city hall Sept. 3, informing them of the threat of a national boycott of Pattaya by India due to repeated victimization of Indian tourists at the hands of jet ski vendors, who rent their watercraft then extort tens of thousands of baht from them for supposed damage. The demands for payment are often made under threat of violence.

The photo shows another jet ski scam in progress.The photo shows another jet ski scam in progress.

Pattaya has, for years, promised to bring the situation under control, set up several committees to draft new rules, and threaten sanctions, but, in the end, has followed through on none of its proposals. The most-recent meeting saw nothing more happen than for the deputy mayor to ask for cooperation.

Even then, shouts went up from various operators, proclaiming their innocence and objections to a suggestion made by the Pattaya Business & Tourism Association that the city should outright ban all jet skis to protect Pattaya’s tourism industry.

Ronakit acknowledged that only a minority of jet ski operators are involved in the scams, but told the vendors claiming to be innocent that it is their responsibility to get rid of the bad apples.

“This has to be stopped before the problems gets worse,” he said. “Recent crimes, including the bombing in Bangkok and the alleged rape of two Chinese tourists by Pattaya speedboat drivers have affected tourism enough. Jet ski scams are the last thing we need at the moment.”

The Pattaya City Council has debated having crime-suppression officers perform weekly inspections, and let affected customers speak to police, and have specialists or engineers inspect the jet ski before settling on damages.

The scams usually involve jet skis that are already damaged before being used by the customers, according to reports.

Despite the lack of any real action at the meeting, Ronakit promised there would be a future meeting scheduled where “concrete measures” would be discussed.