Jet ski scams have been damaging the reputation of Thailand’s tourist sector for some time.
Most often, having returned a rented jet ski, tourists are told that they have damaged it and have to pay a hefty repair (up to 100,000 Baht in some cases) fee for breaks and scratches that were already present. 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 jetski 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 Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) recently announced a plan to work with the Department of Tourism, under the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, to resolve the issue of tourists being scammed by corrupt jetski operators.
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, jetski 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 jetski 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.