Fair Prices please for everyone

BANGKOK, 27 February 2017: We are comfortable with Fair Trade having read the small print on the label of our joggers that confidently assures us they were manufactured with an eye on ethics.

Fair play is internationally accepted as the ruling principle in the drive to rid global sports of cheats. No one challenges that enterprise.

So why is the tourism industry slow to campaign for fair prices? We don’t see the UNWTO coming out in condemnation of dual pricing that is practiced by many of its member countries. But there is no doubt that establishing prices based on nationality is a form of discrimination for the rest of the world.

Last week, two examples of dual pricing emerged in two UNWTO member countries — Thailand and Myanmar.

In Thailand, boat operators protested at the headquarters of Krabi’s national park over the long-time practice of charging foreign guests a THB400 entrance fee. Thais pay THB40.

They claimed tourists were voting with their feet; going elsewhere leaving boat tour owners to suffer the consequences.

Myanmar’s airlines practice dual pricing on domestic flights. It is very evident when you attempt to book a fare online. The airlines ask if you are a foreigner, or a citizen of Myanmar. Then they subsequently fleece foreigners with fares that are more than double what local travellers pay.

Personally, I vote with my feet. Charge me double because I am a foreigner and I go elsewhere.

Thailand’s national parks are notorious for dual pricing and frankly their attempts to justify the practice are ludicrous. There are countless other ways to keep entrance fees low for tax payers if you think they deserve a price break.

You can discount entrance for retirees (over 60 years), students, children under 12 travelling with their parents, government employees, or military and their families. Offering cheap entrance fees for families, or groups, is another way to provide incentives.

If a park’s carrying capacity is the issue, then discount the entrance fee for mid-week visits and double it at the weekend.

Post the THB400 entrance fee as standard for everyone and provide discounts and incentive based on commercial or educational objectives, but not nationality.  The perception is negative for a country that claims to be a leader in tourism in Southeast Asia.

As for airlines, more than doubling fares for domestic sectors just because the passenger is a foreigner is disgraceful and actually has no commercial value on flights that are packed with domestic travellers rather than tourists. Wake up to fair play.

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