PHUKET: Phuket officials have met with a Chinese consular official and apologised for a Thai tour agent's attack on a Chinese tourist. They also reported on the penalty awarded in the case.
Li Chenglong, counsellor director of China's Phuket consular office, met Phuket governor Narong Woonciew and other local officials yesterday to discuss the Feb 1 incident.
On that day, a woman at a Thai tour firm kicked a Chinese customer, identified as Fang Liqiao, 36, and inflicted a cut on his arm with a small knife during an argument over the client's demand for a full refund for a trip he and his family missed on Jan 31.
After the incident, the tour agent said she had acted in self-defence after they were unable to agree on the refund amount for the family's missed tour to the Similan Islands.
Investigators found the tour firm did not pick the family up for the trip because of a miscommunication about their meeting point.
The tourist has since returned to China.
The Phuket governor invited Mr Li to the meeting at the provincial hall yesterday to mend fences.
He apologised for the incident and informed him about the punishment given to the tour agent and her company.
The governor said the tour agent was charged with physical assault and illegal possession of a knife in public, and she was liable to a prison term of up to three months and/or a fine of 60,000 baht.
Her firm was suspended from business for six months and was being prosecuted for tarnishing the nation's reputation and damaging its tourism image. The offence carried a fine of up to 500,000 baht, governor Narong said.
Mr Li said he was satisfied and grateful for the prompt action by Phuket officials.
He believed the incident would not affect Sino-Thai relations.
He proposed Phuket officials report the incident and their response via mass media so that Chinese people would be informed and there would be no repeat incidents.
Mr Li said Chinese people were impressed with the Thai government because it warmly welcomed them immediately after the Chinese government allowed them to travel abroad.
Meanwhile, Thanet Tantiphiriyakit, president of the Phuket Tourism Association, expressed his satisfaction with the authorities' rapid response regarding the attack on the Chinese tourist.