Big Trouble in Tourist Thailand

UK TV program makes waves in Thailand

15th September

Big Trouble in Tourist Thailand...

Thailand tries to stop Bravo TV series highlighting tourist scams in Thailand

The  second episode in the controversial Big Trouble in Tourist Thailan d television series has just been broadcast in Britain on Bravo - but Thai authorities are now trying to prevent the rest of the eight-part series from being completed.

Producer-director Gavin Hill says the Thailand Film Office has sent a letter asking the British production company, Bravo, not to screen any more episodes.

Episode Three, being edited in Britain, is in rough-cut form. The show can only go on with permission from all the people shown on-screen. That includes Winai ''JJ'' Naiman, the now-notorious Phuket jet-ski operator, who signed a release form so that his actions could be displayed to viewers with his approval.

Hill said tonight's second episode does not reflect badly on Thailand. That was never the intention of Big Trouble in Tourist Thailand, he added.

I don't know what's going to happen now with the series, he said. The Thailand Film Office has 'pulled all the releases and permissions that are required to complete the series. He has been told there is the likelihood of a complaint being made to the British embassy. At least one volunteer expat tourist policeman in Pattaya had also expressed concern.

In some ways, it's very positive for Thailand, he said: The young lady who was in trouble on Koh Phangan in the first episode is fined 50 pounds, she gets her bail money back, and she is allowed to go, with the only real penalty being an extra three weeks in Thailand.

By coincidence, authorities on Koh Phangan have announced a plan to make the island, noted for expat full moon rave parties, drug-free as fast as possible.

Episode One of Big Trouble screened last week, revealing footage of what appeared to be an extortion bid by ''JJ'' with a gun in hand, and it came just before a planned summit on jet-ski scams on Phuket. The Jet Ski operators demand enormous compensation for unlikely damage to the jetski.

Nationwide, crackdowns are underway on crimes against tourists at Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok as part of a push against corruption by the Prime Minister.

The jet-ski crackdown on Phuket came after the Deputy PM met with the Australian ambassador. Other ambassadors later echoed their increasing concerns about jet-ski scams to the Phuket Governor, Wichai Praisa-nob.


19th September

Update: Bigger Trouble in Tourist Thailand...

Thai authorities to prosecute TV company for revealing Phuket scams

The Thai television company responsible for producing the Big Trouble in Tourist Thailand series, which featured footage of an alleged jet-ski scam on Phuket, is to be prosecuted, the Bangkok Post has reported.

The managers of Black Sheep Productions, which produced the show, could face 12 months in jail and fines of up to a million baht (£18,000), the report said.

The first episode of the series showed a Patong jet-ski operator, Winai ‘JJ' Naiman, extracting 35,000 baht (£630) from a group of British Royal Navy Marines in compensation for ‘damage' to one of his vehicles. At one point, Winai was shown holding an air rifle as he argued aggressively with the men, who denied damaging the jet-ski.

As well as being broadcast on British TV, the show has been uploaded to YouTube, causing uproar among those who say jet-ski scamming is rife on Phuket's beaches.

In today's Bangkok Post report, Wanasiri Morakul, director of the Thailand Film Office, is quoted as saying those responsible for the show had violated Article 34 of the motion picture law by failing to submit the footage to the Tourism and Sports Ministry for approval before its broadcast abroad.

Director-general of the Office of Tourism Development, Seksan Nakawong, reportedly said the film-makers had violated Article 23 of the same law for making a film damaging to Thailand's reputation.

Gavin Hill, the British producer of the series, denies the allegations, saying the show was neither fake nor stage-managed.

Meetings at Patong Municipality offices are ongoing with the aim to hammer out details of a compulsory insurance scheme for the island's jet-ski industry. It is hoped such a scheme will put a stop to rip-offs and disputes on the island's beaches.


23rd September

Update: More Trouble in Thailand...

Big Trouble in Thailand programme maker flees to the UK

A British producer cameraman has had to flee Thailand after filming a sequence in which British Royal Marines were held at gunpoint by Thai mafia after hiring a Jet Ski on a Phuket beach.

The cameraman Gavin Hill was today back in London, after fleeing Bangkok, as his Thai crew faced up to a year in jail. They stand accused of assisting in the filming of a sequence which could damage the country's image .

A battle with the Thai authorities has raged for two weeks. Hill said : I've made a tactical withdrawal and am in London to discuss how we can help our Thai colleagues. But yes, I did not wish to argue my case from prison.

We filmed the mafia but suddenly we are the criminals apparently. The atmosphere is a little bit hysterical. The Marines are behind me thank god.



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