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Zero tolerance for ‘zero dollar’ tours

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Zero tolerance for ‘zero dollar’ tours | Thaiger

The governments of Thailand and China are working hand-in-hand to limit the number of tourists coming from the latter to the former, especially the “low-quality” ones, the [former] head of Phuket’s official tourism office recently announced.

Reinforcing Thailand’s efforts to shift focus from quantity to quality tourist markets, the Chinese government since October 1 has been enforcing new regulations affecting its outbound leisure traffic, which will limit the number of its outbound tourists overall, as well as eliminate so-called “Zero-dollar Tour” packages.

“This is a positive way to help reduce ‘low quality’ tourists’,” said Chanchai Duangjit, chief of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Phuket office.

As part of the new regulations, Chinese authorities will scrutinise the itineraries of both Thailand and China based tour operators, who will be required to specify exact details of their tour programs. Moreover, the packages must be paid for in China only, and the Chinese tourists will not be allowed to partake in itineraries that are not explicitly stated in the original program. Tour operators deemed in violation of the new regulations will be subject to a 300,000 yuan (1.5 million baht) fine and/or face a revocation of their license.

“Zero-dollar tour packages have given a negative image to Thailand tourism for a long time,” Chanchai, who has since been reassigned to Bangkok, insisted.

He explained that such packages aren’t necessarily “free” packages but were sold to tourists at cheaper rates, subsidized through deals with commission-paying third party firms – jewelery galleries, souvenir shops and tailors, for example.

In other words, tour operators were also acting as commission-based “touts”, while tour groups were subjected to additional itineraries that they didn’t buy into.

“In the past, there was no strict regulation to address this problem and there were many bad tour guides who deceived Chinese tourists,” Chanchai said.

The local tourism chief went on to underline other issues associated with mass tourism, namely the lack of knowledgeable or qualified tour guides; shortage of transportation; congestion and strain on infrastructure as well as declining profits for tourism operators and other local businesses.

“I think the new regulation will decrease the number of low-budget tourists coming to Thailand and I believe that Thailand will in turn see increased profits from quality tourists. I don’t see any negative effects for the Thai tourism industry,” he concluded.

Some tour agents in Phuket disagree, however.

One Phuket-based operator who deals with inbound Chinese tour groups, told the Phuket Gazette that the number of bookings from this segment had decreased immediately following the announcement of the new regulations.

“Compared to years past, the number of travellers these days is higher, especially during the Chinese holiday periods. Chinese zero-dollar [packages] was an effective strategy to bring more Chinese tourists to Thailand and increase locals’ income,” said the operator, who insisted that both tour guides and companies have been greatly impacted, and will continue to be impacted by the new regulation.

The operator, who asked not to be named, explained that many local tour companies and related businesses enjoyed considerable profits by offering supplemental activities to Chinese tourists – hiring of speed boat trips, visits to jewelry showrooms, other shopping venues and so forth.

“Tour agents could enjoy profits of about 10,000-20,000 baht per tourist, while tour guides could get 30,000-40,000 baht per group tour,” the operator revealed.

“Now, tour companies [serving Chinese tourists directly in China] will increase their tour package prices and reap all the profits from the sale of [supplemental] programs to tourists, while tour guides will end up earning only 1,500 baht per day. Nonetheless, we will try to find other solutions to increase our profits when Chinese tourists decline,” he said.

Indeed, the days of cheap mass tourism seem to be numbered, at least if the will of Thai and Chinese authorities is fully realized. Although many local tour agencies and their affiliate companies will immediately lose out on “mass margins”, with every threat arises a new opportunity – to find new solutions for the greater good of all local businesses. But only time will tell how Thailand’s mass tourism saga pans out.

– Kanyawarat Pranprasert

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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The Thaiger joins forces with Masii to bring you hassle-free Thailand re-entry packages and much more

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The Thaiger joins forces with Masii to bring you hassle-free Thailand re-entry packages and much more | Thaiger

PRESS RELEASE

The Thiager and its sister company Tadoo, have announced they will enter a strategic partnership with the Bangkok-based fintech company, Masii.

Having joined forces with Masii, The Thaiger aims to provide its 6 million-plus monthly users with exclusive deals and packages such as the Thailand re-entry package, comprising of the Certificate of Entry (COE), Covid-19 Travel Insurance and a Covid-19 Test.

Sapir Matmon, of Tadoo, says “This tie-up will allow us to provide our readers with all-inclusive packages specifically designed to make the whole process of coming back to Thailand as simple as possible. And by booking through us, all service fees will be waived – a saving of more than 1,000 Baht. We’re confident you won’t find a better price in the market right now.”

The Thaiger joins forces with Masii to bring you hassle-free Thailand re-entry packages and much more | News by Thaiger

“We can provide everything you need to enter Thailand hassle-free and within 12 hours, which is the fastest in the market.” Says Maxwell Meyer, CEO of Masii.

Covid-19 has drastically accelerated the industry’s movement toward shifting products and services online.

Sapir says “We are tremendously pleased to welcome the Masii team and work alongside Maxwell, as one of the stars of the local fintech scene.”

Tadoo, The Thiager’s sister company, has also teamed up with Masii on their Thai price comparison platform, tadoo.co, which offers a similar range of products including, insurance, finance, internet, and mobile.

The goal of Tadoo is to bring clarity to the Thai market and assist consumers in making better-informed choices by offering a quick and convenient solution for getting the products they want without the hassle.

For more information on the Thailand Re-Entry Full Package, click HERE.

The Thaiger joins forces with Masii to bring you hassle-free Thailand re-entry packages and much more | News by Thaiger

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Aviation authority calling for 20,000 vaccine doses for crew, ground staff

Maya Taylor

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Aviation authority calling for 20,000 vaccine doses for crew, ground staff | Thaiger
PHOTO: Christian Junker on Flickr

The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand is calling for vaccine doses to protect around 20,000 airline crew and ground staff before the country re-opens to international tourists. The CAAT says it’s vital that those working in the aviation industry are protected and has submitted its request to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

According to Suthipong Kongpool from the CAAT, there are around 20,000 airline employees, including crew and ground staff, who will need to be vaccinated. As 2 doses are required, a total of 40,000 doses are needed to fully protect staff. The Bangkok Post reports that the CAAT will meet on Thursday to review the aviation sector’s readiness for when the country re-opens without international arrivals having to quarantine.

Suthipong says they are seeking enough vaccine doses to protect employees of Thai-registered carriers.

“It’s a confidence-building measure for tourists and those providing the services to them.”

From July, the southern island of Phuket will be the first part of the country to waive quarantine for vaccinated international arrivals, subject to 70% of local residents being vaccinated. The “sandbox” project is a pilot programme that will be expanded to other areas if it proves successful. Between October and the end of the year, 5 other provinces – Phang Nga, Surat Thani, Krabi, Chon Buri, and Chiang Mai – are expected to adopt the programme. Officials hope to be able to re-open the country fully from January 2022.

According to the CAAT, the first foreign visitors expected to return to Phuket will be Chinese tourists, given that country’s success in managing the pandemic. Meanwhile, the CAAT says Thailand will see a 7% increase in air traffic this month compared to last, with a total of 36,150 domestic and international flights.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Labour union angry over changes to Thai Airways staff contracts under rehab plan

Maya Taylor

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Labour union angry over changes to Thai Airways staff contracts under rehab plan | Thaiger
PHOTO: Wikimedia

Union representatives are questioning changes made to the employment terms of Thai Airways staff as part of the national carrier’s debt-restructuring plan. The labour union claims the changes have removed or diluted several staff entitlements and welfare benefits, pointing the finger at acting president, Chansin Treenuchagron, who signed the orders.

The union is calling on the Department of Labour Protection and Welfare to review the changes to check if they align with a debt-restructuring plan submitted to the Central Bankruptcy Court. According to a Bangkok Post report, the union believes the signed orders may go against the terms of the rehab plan currently being reviewed by creditors. They include an order related to the company’s new organisational structure, as well as the screening of workers who will continue to be employed by the carrier during and after the rehab process.

Union representatives accuse the airline of changing the terms and conditions of employee contracts, meaning weaker welfare benefits. They are asking the DLPW to confirm if the changes comply with the 1940 Bankruptcy Act, the 1975 Labour Relations Act, and the 1998 Labour Protection Act. The union says that if the changes are found to violate the acts, Chansin should be ordered to cancel the orders and draw up new employment terms that comply with the airline’s rehab plan and with employment law.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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