BANGKOK – Ministry of Tourism and Sports plans to beef up the tourist police presence at six airports under the supervision of the Airports of Thailand to assist tourists and crackdown on crime and scams.
The Minister of Tourism, Somsak Pureesrisak, said the ministry has assigned the Tourist Police Division to study ways to improve their presence at the six airports –Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Hat Yai and Phuket.The ‘Tourist Buddy Virtual Assistant’ was launched today at an “i-Exhibition” within Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport. The exhibition will continue until April 16
“The plan aims to use the tourist police to clamp down on fraud including illegal taxi service as well as emergency assistance for crime victims.”
Tourist Police are already stationed at the airports near the arrival halls, but the minister wants a much larger presence and more authority to deal with crime.
There has been talk of creating teams that would include customs, immigration and tourist polices to coordinate services at international checkpoints both at airports and land borders.
However, the Royal Thai Police will need to extend the authority of tourist police officers as they are currently not empowered to arrest wrongdoers. Arrests require local police on the scene to comply with the law. This has led for calls to revamp the tourist police or bring them closer to the local police units so they can work more efficiently.
The minister said his plan will be proposed to the Cabinet soon and it is likely that Phuket Airport would be a pilot project in December.
Suvarnabhumi Airport provides a Passenger Facilitation Centre, located on the fourth floor of the passenger terminal, behind counter check-in R. It will operate 24 hours a day until 31 March to assist travellers if their flights are disrupted or cancelled.
It will also coordinate with security officers and provides assistance to visitors who need to register complaints.
Besides the recently opened centre, passengers can seek assistance from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports’ Tourist Service Centre located at Gate 3 on the first floor of the passenger terminal.
There is also a district court at the airport providing access to the judiciary system for foreign tourists so they do not need to travel to the district court in Samut Prakan provincial town to attend settlement hearings, which is some distance from the airport.
The court houses in Room CIP 5, 3rd floor of the Passenger Terminal Building. by Wanwisa Ngamsangchaikit