Thailand assists tourists stranded by tour operator’s bankruptcy

Picture courtesy of Pornprom Satrabhaya

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has committed to supporting tourists stranded due to the bankruptcy of major German tour operator FTI Group, while also collaborating with government officials to ensure hotels are compensated by the company.

Siripakorn Cheawsamoot, TAT Deputy Governor for Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas, reported that there have been no reports of stranded tourists. He urged hotel operators to inform TAT if they have clients from FTI who are unable to return home, so the agency can assist.

FTI declared insolvency on June 3, leading to the cancellation of all departures scheduled after that date. However, Siripakorn noted that clients who departed before the announcement or who bought travel packages through other companies using FTI as a trading platform would not be affected by the bankruptcy.

Since June 3, TAT has monitored daily arrivals from Germany, observing a consistent flow of around 1,000 tourists on average, comparable to figures from May. Despite this, the insolvency poses a significant threat to hotels due to FTI’s substantial market share, which typically accounts for more than 100,000 bookings per year in Thailand. TAT has reported this issue to the tourism and sports minister.

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The Thai authorities will assist hotels in monitoring this situation, particularly concerning compensation, as the Thai Hotels Association (THA) has already reported losses amounting to 111 million baht. Customer payments for rooms booked through FTI are insured by the German Travel Security Fund (GTSF).

TAT is investigating legal procedures to determine how Thai hotels can receive payments for guests who have completed their holidays and made lodging payments through FTI, Siripakorn stated.

The THA has suggested that TAT develop an alert system to manage future financial risks among their European tour partners. TAT overseas offices are expected to take a more proactive approach to monitoring such incidents, given the increasing importance of European tour operators in the Thai tourism market since the pandemic.

European travellers prefer booking hotels and flights via tour operators as their payments are protected by law, such as the GTSF, Siripakorn said. This trend is growing as tourists who booked individually encountered difficulties in receiving compensation from hotels in distant destinations when they had to cancel their trips during the pandemic.

The TAT’s commitment to assisting stranded tourists and ensuring hotel payments underscores the agency’s dedication to maintaining Thailand’s tourism sector’s stability and reliability.

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Alex Morgan

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