BANGKOK, 26 February 2016: Minister of Tourism and Sports, Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, says she is combating illegal travel agencies using a special committee that is currently investigating companies.
According to a National News Bureau of Thailand report, Thursday, the minister said travel agencies that used Thai nationals as nominees damaged Thailand’s tourism business.
According to the law foreigners can own 49% of a company registered in Thailand.
The committee had inspected 245 travel agencies and found that 22 of them may have used nominees. The Department of Tourism registrar is responsible for registering travel firms and checking credential every two years when registration needs to be renewed.
Without DoT authorisation, companies cannot offer tours, or conduct travel-related business. However, there is evidence that foreign nationals, mainly Russians and Chinese, have financial control of tour firms and operate illegally, even using their own guides.
There were also 113 illegal tour guides out of a total 1,439 tour guides checked by the committee, the minister reported. That is less than 10% of registered guides.
The ministry is also collaborating with government agencies to stamp out cheap trips sold to Chinese tourists. The news bureau report did not elaborate on how the ministry would end so-called zero-dollar tours that are sustained by commissions paid by suppliers.
The Department of Tourism, the Thai Car Rental Association and the Department of Land Transport are also working on ministerial regulations to control car rental to protect consumer rights and ensure safety standards are met. The regulations should be finalised within three months.