News about tourists being arrested with money extortion at Bangkok International Airport earlier this year because of alleged stealing at Duty Free Shops has once again done considerable damage to the reputation of Thailand’s main international gateway.
The Danish Embassy in Thailand has already sent out a warning to travelers asking them to avoid buying goods at the airport, following the arrest of a Danish traveler for similar reasons. This has put cast over the credibility of the Thai airport.
New Airports of Thailand (AOT) president Serirat Prasutanond has been, however, quick to fix up the problem. After chasing away taxi touts and fake guides from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport, AOT is now coming up with new rules in the case of foreign tourists being again arrested for alleged robbery in duty free shops. The announcement was done at a press conference during the last edition of IT&CMA in Bangkok.
From now, tourist police officers will be the only authorized to deal with alleged cases. Even better, questioning of passengers will be conducted in police premises located WITHIN the airport building and not outside as it has been the case.
Media around the world have been quick to lash out at the airport authority for its lack of intervention during the recent cases. However, more than the airport authority, questions should have been asked about the real role played by local police who seems to have turned robbery cases into extortion cases. Alleged thieves turned into victims as they were isolated and confined into hotel rooms outside the airport premises and asked to bail out up to 12,000 US$ to be discharged.
The new measure should now not only reassure foreign travelers using Bangkok airport but also restore the airport’s credibility and, hopefully, restore faith in the country’s law enforcement officials.