PATTAYA, 2 May 2018: Seven hoteliers were arrested last week in Pattaya for allegedly operating illegal hotel properties.
All of them were openly selling their rooms on popular international bookings sites and continue to do so despite police action.
The raids by immigration police and military targeted 10 hotels resulting in the seven arrests of managers, including three foreigners.
Guest who paid to attend the party at the hotel’s meeting room were arrested along with the hotel’s manager. The hotel has no connection to Golden Tulip, which also has properties in Pattaya.
However, in the case of the seven hotels no reasons were given for the arrests, although the three foreigners, (French, Indian and Dutch nationalities) were questioned about their immigration and work permit status.
The police said the managers were apprehended and charged for operating illegal hotels, a term that covers numerous technicalities re licence regulations and renewals.
Police removed receipts and financial documents from the hotels under investigation.
Arrest were made at the following hotels:
Central Pattaya Residence;
E-Outfitting Boutique Hotel;
Boutique City Hotel;
Le Viman Resort;
Jomtien Thani Hotel;
The crackdown illustrates the conundrum facing Thailand’s hotel industry. The properties in question were mainstream resorts operating openly and selling their rooms on all of the main online booking sites such as Booking.com, TripAdvsior and Agoda.
Yet, they were described by the police as illegal hotels. That might worry guests particularly if they need to make an insurance claim. It should also worry tour operators who are liable for the safety of their international guests.
Jomtien Thani Hotel and La Viman Resort are well-known and popular properties with tourists. They are flagged for their positive reviews and despite the crackdown their rooms are still being sold on major hotel booking sites.
Jomtien Thani Hotel offers a rate of THB 915 and TTR Weekly was able to make a booking for a mid-May stay.
The same check indicated that all of the seven hotels are still in business, offering rates on popular booking sites and confirming bookings.
The arrests appeared to have no impact on the day-to-day operations of the hotels or their ability to sell rooms on international booking sites.
Officially, the Ministry of Tourism and Sport has adopted a policy to end illegal hotel operations and ideally it would like to recruit booking websites to toe-the-line and feature only properties that are up todate on licensing, fire and safety checks. The Thai Hotels Association has been lobbying for decades to clean up the hotel registration process and renewal of operating licences, saying illegal hotels and apartment buildings are robbing genuine hotels of their livelihood.
Last year, the former Minister of Tourism and Sports, Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, discussed with leading booking sites the issue of non registered, or technically illegal hotels, openly selling rooms online.
At the time she hoped to convince the booking sites to tighten their internal registration procedures and to ensure there were checks and balances in place to vet hotels that sell online.
It is understood the booking sites failed to reach an agreement with the minister and the sale of hotel rooms continues without giving consumers any assurance of a property’s legal status.
In the case of the seven hotels, guests were not inconvenienced, but consumers should be able to book a hotel knowing the online booking site has done due diligence on the legal status of the hotels listed and bookable on their websites.