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.