BANGKOK, 4 July 2017: Thailand’s Association of Thai Travel Agents calls on tour operators serving the Chinese market to comply with regulations in order to strengthen quality.
Speaking at the association’s monthly meeting, last Thursday, ATTA president, Vichit Prakobgosol, said the association and the Thai-Chinese Tourism Alliance Association discussed measures to tighten Chinese tour quality.
“Abandoning Chinese tourists and the lack of marine tourism safety are two issues that blight our business,” he said, referring to reports that tour guides even tour companies left their groups to fend for themselves.
“Tour companies still allow tour guides to sell optional tours at THB9,000 to THB10,000… and when they cannot sell at those prices, the guides lose money… they argue with tourists and abandon them…the situation directly impacts on the country’s tourism image.”
Tour companies should not be be authorising guides to sell sightseeing tours on the side that have a value of more than THB3,000 per person, but it a common practice and indicates zero-dollar tourism still exists. The pre-paid package cost is kept at minimum by offering very little other than the airfare accommodation and a half-day city tour. This leaves it open for local land tour companies and guides to sell add-on tours and sightseeing attractions to generate the big profits, mostly well below the tax collector’s radar.
Last year, the Committee of Tourism Business and Guides issued regulations that set the minimum standard daily cost of a pre-paid tour package at THB1,000 for Chinese tour groups and the optional add-on tour price for Chinese tour groups should not exceed THB3,000 per person per trip.
To increase marine tourism safety, Ministry of Tourism and Sports recently issued a statement to the association asking members to refrain from offering diving activities to tourists on the first day they arrive in Thailand.
The ministry said it made the statement out of concern for the welfare of tourists, who might be suffering from jet lag, or are tired after a long flight.
Chinese tourists who love water sports are the main target for the new rule, which is a response to an increase in marine accidents including drowning. Officials say tourists are more at risk the day immediately following their arrival in Thailand, due to travel fatigue.
Last year, Thailand welcomed 8,757,466 Chinese tourists an increase of 10.34% from 7,936,795 visits in 2015, according to the tourism ministry’s data.