Check before you buy travel

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BANGKOK, 12 May 2017: Thailand’s Department of Tourism encourages travellers to be cautious before purchasing package tours and warns it will take legal action against companies that offer illegal travel services.

Last week, the 22 Chinese tourists, travelling on a tour provided by Xin Xing Travel Co, were abandoned by the roadside in Takua Thung district, Phang Nga province.

A Thai tour guide, Teerakeat Seahuang, was with the  Chinese tourists when they were abandoned 2 May.

He has been charged for assisting Huang Ling, a Chinese woman, to illegally work as a tour guide. He was fined THB10,000 and has been suspended from working as a guide for three months, according to a Phuket News report.

Ms Huang was arrested and charged with working illegally as a tour guide that carries a fine of up to THB100,000, or up to one year in jail. She was also charged for not having a work permit, an offense that carries a fine of THB2,000 to THB100,000, or up to five years in jail, or both.

Ms Huang, who was initially detained by the court was released after posting bail.

Department of Tourism’s Bureau of Tourism Business and Guide Registration head, Pensirirat Artthaweekul, told TTR Weekly that the department will summon the company to explain details about the case next week.

“We are waiting information from the Phuket office…in this case the company is legally registered under the bureau list…we need to see further details…in terms of the regulations, if the company hires illegal tour guides we can suspend its licence and if repeat the offense in the same year we would revoke their licence.”

The head recommends that travellers check before deciding to purchase any package tours and to check registration and licence numbers with the bureau.

They should call 02 219 4010-7 ext 310 or the department call centre at 02 401 1111.

Responding to a question on why the department’s website fails to identify companies or tour guides that have been suspended or had their licences revoked she said: “We are updating the list on the website which is expected to be effective soon….so far, people can find a complete list of legally registered travel company and tour guide list on the department website.”

To check a travel agency’s status visit www.tourism.go.th.

Type in the name of the company in capitals and the search engine should give details of the company’s registration. The procedure is the same in the Thai language version.

For the full list of registered agents visit: http://tourism2.tourism.go.th/subweb/details/6/6265/24430

Some issues remain. If you check the above website listing there is no indication if the listed companies have been suspended, or had their status revoked.  It is customary to flag companies that are under suspension, ceased business operations or had licences revoked to ensure the listing is useful and can be trusted by travellers. That data is missing and has been for months.

Also the certificates and stickers that travel agencies display in their shops are often out dated. They need to be updated and travel agencies should be obliged to always display the current valid certification in their office premises and in promotional material.

1 COMMENT

  1. Too many unscrupulous foreigners are coming in Thailand to cheat for taking control of properly registered Thai businesses or to buy Thai properties and/or businesses with the help of Thai nominees working as agents who act for the beneficial foreign owners for signing all official legal documents.
    TAT (Tourism Authority of Thailand), DBD (Department of Business Development), Tourist Police and many governmental administrations are not very active to crack down on those illegal investors and scammers.

    It is also very important to note that it is illegal under the FBA for both the Thai and foreigner benefiting therefrom, for any Thai to be “nominee” (in other words, in name only and not actual) shareholder.

    Section 36 of the FBA states:

    Section 36. A Thai national or a juristic person, not being a foreigner under this Act, who assists in or aids and abets or participates in the operation of a foreigner’s business specified in the Lists annexed hereto where such foreigner is not permitted to operate that business or who operates the business jointly with a foreigner in the manner holding it out as the former’s sole business or who acts as a foreigner’s nominee in holding shares in a partnership or a limited company or any juristic person with a view to enabling the foreigner to operate the business in circumvention or violation of the provisions of this Act, or a foreigner who allows such act to be committed by a Thai national or a juristic person that is not a foreigner under this Act, shall be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or to a fine of one hundred thousand Baht to one million Baht or to both, and the Court shall order the cessation of the assistance or the aiding and abetting or order the cessation of the joint operation of the business or order the cessation of shareholding or partnership, as the case may be. In the case of violation of the order of the Court, the violator shall be liable to a fine at the daily rate of ten thousand Baht to fifty thousand Baht throughout the period of the violation.

    Section 41. In the case where a juristic person commits offences under section 34, section 35, section 36 or section 37, directors, partners or persons with the authority to represent the juristic person, who connive at the commission of such offences or fail to take reasonable action in preventing such offences shall be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or to a fine of one hundred thousand Baht to one million Baht or to both.

    THAI COMPANY
    In a Thai majority company, Thai shareholders own 50% or more of the shares.

    THAI COMPANY OWNING TRANSPORT BOAT(S) or TOU BOATS
    In a Thai majority company, Thai shareholders own 70% or more of the shares.

    Most of foreign dive Instructors have set up a Thai Company with Thai nominees without TAT Licence and compulsory “travel Insurance”.
    – Many of those diving Instructors are canvassing oversea customers through Facebook pages or owning oversea websites with payments into foreign accounts through PayPal; therefore, those Instructors should have a TAT Licence 34/00001 with a 100,000 Baht/Inbound or a TAT Licence 31/00001 with a 200,000 Baht/Outbound as Bank guarantee.
    – Ltd. Part. Companies owned by a foreigners working as diving Instructors do not have a TAT Licence and a compulsory “Tourist & Guide” insurance costing over 100,000 Baht per year (200 Baht per diver & 70 baht per tourist on yearly basis).

    PENALTIES: Unlike the previous Alien Business Law, the new Foreign Business Act provides for more severe criminal penalties. Any foreigner who operates a business excluded to foreigners by the Foreign Business law and without an Alien Business License is liable for a fine from 100,000 to 1,000,000 Baht and imprisonment of up to three years. Further, a Thai national or juristic person that assists a foreigner in avoiding the Foreign Business Act by means of holding shares as a nominee or being a nominal owner of the company shall also be liable for a fine of 100,000 to 1,000,000 Baht and imprisonment of up to three years.

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