Tourism Crime and Scams. First Crime Crisis Centre in Phuket

| 19.08.2013

This week, the first Crime Crisis Centre, at Phuket International Airport opened its doors. Another will be opened in downtown Phuket, both operating around the clock, in an aim to crack down on tourism crooks. Crooks that range from ripping off tourists in jet-ski scams, accusing tourists of damaging the rental jet-skis and demanding huge sums for repairs to threat of physical violence.

I went to Phuket last year, and can certainly see how many scams there could be, and how the unassuming tourist is an easy target. Thai newspapers report that Russians, Koreans and Chinese have been active in both Phuket and Pattaya, some using Thais as nominees in setting up businesses to con foreigners. So it’s big business.

It’s just another reminder of how we need to be careful when travelling. Travel not only securing your personal belongings, but thinking with your head screwed on. Don’t trust people on the street. Don’t buy drugs. Don’t say you will buy something, then change your mind. Don’t go down into the slums. Don’t take too many chances. Do have fun. Do take notice of things. Do secure yourself. Do let your family and friends know your plans. Do get things in writing. Do use reputable companies.

I have been conned, probably more often than I know it. The one that comes to mind, is arriving at Peru airport at midnight, hotel booking in hand, being led astray by a tour company saying the hotel had closed, and they will find us a better hotel. They found us a hotel, but also at an extra cost. They also had us come in for a meeting the next morning, where they sold a ‘cheap’ package for travelling through Peru and Bolivia, including a tour of the Inca Trail. We weren’t in any harm, the tour was brilliant, but we did pay much more than we should have.

That, I guess, is where planning and common sense comes in. Research what things cost, know what you want to do, and have options. Travel is a wonderful thing, and can be so fulfilling and exciting. But with all excitement comes its dangers – stay safe.

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