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Thailand gets tough on jet ski scammers

August 20, 2014
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After years of pressure from tour operators and tourists alike, Thailand is finally getting tough on the infamous jet ski scammers.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is teaming up with the Department of Tourism to crack down on ‘corrupt jet ski operators’, and introduce new regulations and safety standards.

The familiar scam involves hefty damage fees imposed on the tourist, who is strong-armed into paying exorbitant fees for alleged damage to the machine. These large fines are often extracted under the threat of violence, and many tourists have taken the step of lodging complaints with their national embassies after being scammed by jet ski operators.

Pattaya and Phuket are the two main destinations where tourists have been scammed, and the practice is so well known that there is a video on YouTube which shows the conmen in action, posted as a warning to other tourists.

The “Jet Ski Rental Service Standards”, which are coming into force, require that operators have at least a three-month legal business license tied to a permanent address as well as a valid insurance policy. In addition, certified supervisors with first-aid training must be present at all time. To ensure ethical and transparent services for tourists, jet ski operators must clearly display the service fees as well as terms and conditions.

Rental shops complying with the new service standards will be issued with a ‘Merry Elephant’ logo by the Department of Tourism to display. This emblem acts as a guarantee that they are trusted jet ski operators.

The regulations also extend to the safety of tourists using this equipment. Anyone hiring a jet ski will have to pass an assessment test before they are allowed to take it out on the water. Once they pass this test they are still required to wear standard safety vests at all times.

This move comes after the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) issued a command to clean up and regulate the business of jet skis in many of Thailand’s famous beach destinations.

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