Phuket travel warning for Aussies

Australians travelling to Phuket this summer are being urged to be wary of extortion gangs and are being advised  to protect themselves with comprehensive travel insurance for the duration of their trip.

With more than 25,000 Australians travelling to Phuket in the height of the peak season, Australian Ambassador, James Wise, and his British counterpart Mark Kent, have joined a Thai Ministry of Tourism campaign to tackle the growing problem of tourist scams on Phuket. Ambassador Wise has advised travellers to be particularly aware of extortion scams, usually involving hiring of motorbike and jet skis. Often the vehicles can be stolen property, and police will charge drivers thousands of dollars for compensation if they get caught with a stolen vehicle.

Larry Cunningham, Australia's honorary consul in Phuket said scams and criminality had increased to such an extent that it is pushing expatriates to leave the island. Incidents such as overpriced taxi fares and assaults on intoxicated travellers at festivals such as the Full Moon parties are common place in the area.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald an average of 50 Australians a year suffer a fatality whilst visiting the Thai island and Ambassador Wise is advising Australians not to travel to the area if they do not have travel insurance.

"Medical costs in Thailand can run into many thousands of dollars. If you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel," he said.

Holiday makers should also compare travel money options when heading overseas and select a secure way to carry their funds as well as potentially save hundreds of dollars on foreign exchange and ATM fees.

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