FRENCH FAMILY ORDEAL IN THAILAND – A French family, Elodie, Damien and their infant daughter Oxanna Triche were shockingly treated by Phuket Immigration Officials after a simple mistake of not passing through immigration due to a misdirection that was caused by the airports on-going construction.
The family were arrested, even though they had been told by a hotel staff that it was not a big issue, easily rectified and the fact that they went to the Immigration Police to sort out the mistake.
The family including their 21 month old daughter was placed custody and then Immigration Officers attempted to scam them of 60,000 Thai Baht (US$2,000).
Full Story: phuketwan
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The story would appear to be almost unbelievable; how could a family, and others, go through an airport without going through immigration and customs?
The truth is it’s relatively easy at Phuket International Airport due to the amount of construction work. The French family simply followed a group of other people as they were completely unfamiliar with the airports layout.
As Elodie points out in her story, she asked the taxi driver if this was normal, not to have a stamp, which he replied ‘it’s not a problem’. Again at the hotel she asked staff who again assured her these things happen and that it could be easily sorted out by going back to immigration in the morning.
Unfortunately anyone familiar with Thailand will openly tell you that the ‘Land of Smiles’ that the authorities like to dub Thailand is in fact the ‘Land of Scams’ where police officers and immigration officials are highly corrupt and that the only thing a Thai is concerned about is how much money can be extracted from a tourist.
On returning to France Elodie went straight to the French media and told her story from start to finish on how she and her family were detained and how extortion attempts by the Immigration Police were made.
While the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) continues to release data suggesting tourism figures continue to grow those on the ground have a much different story to tell.
I spoke to one Hotelier this week who wished to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals by the authorities but he told me how tourism has been in serious decline over the last 5 years due to growing public awareness that Thais are constantly scamming, raping and even murdering tourists. For the last 3 years he has been trying to sell his hotel and get out of Thailand for good but in a marketing that is dying nobody wants to invest.
The story of the French family will certainly further damage the already fragile tourism market in Thailand and yet the Thai Authorities still refuse to take positive action against corrupt officials and those involved in all the tourist scams.