Thailand’s tourism ministry to compensate shooting victims amid regulatory gap

People being evacuated from Siam Paragon during the shooting. Photo courtesy of Bangkok Post

The aftermath of the recent Siam Paragon shooting has unveiled an apparent regulatory gap in Thailand’s support mechanism for distressed tourists.

A previous government disbanded the Foreign Tourists Assistance Fund – a safety net providing financial aid for tourists in times of adversity, and a replacement source of funding had not been set in place.

The Tourism and Sports Ministry, in response to the incident, declared on Wednesday that it would compensate the victims of the shooting, resorting to either the ministry’s budget or central resources. Under the old system, any foreign tourist’s family had access to approximately 1 million baht in case of their demise, courtesy of the Foreign Tourists Assistance Fund.

However, this fund ceased to exist last year, deemed unsuitable for performance evaluation, and plans were underway to substitute it with an insurance scheme for tourists, financed by a new 300-baht tourism fee. The implementation of this fee was stalled during the government transition, leaving a void in tourist insurance.

Sudawan Wangsuphakijkosol, the Tourism and Sports Minister, confirmed that the government could proceed with the tourism fee scheme ratified by the previous Cabinet, a fraction of which is anticipated to underwrite the insurance for tourists.

The ministry has finalised the fee collection method, mandating tourists to pay prior to their arrival through a website, mobile application, or kiosk at airports and border checkpoints.

Safeguard tourists

Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, President of the Thai Hotels Association, insisted that Thailand should establish a permanent framework to safeguard tourists in light of the assistance fund’s discontinuation.

She acknowledged that the proposed tourist insurance was commendable. However, she advocated for a cautious approach, suggesting that the country should first rebuild tourist confidence.

In the wake of the shooting, a negligible number of Chinese guests annulled their reservations, according to Nunbhakdi. The concern among hotel operators is about a potential sharp drop in new bookings starting next week due to the mall shooting.

The Tourism and Sports Ministry, as part of safety assurance, intends to collaborate with the Digital Economy and Society Ministry to initiate mobile safety alerts to keep tourists informed about incidents compromising public safety.

Chadatip Chutrakul, CEO of Siam Piwat Group which owns and operates Siam Paragon, Siam Center, and Siam Discovery, reaffirmed their preparedness for such unforeseen circumstances. She revealed that the group had designed measures to tackle such incidents over three years ago, in response to similar occurrences in other countries, reports Bangkok Post.

“We have measures in place to instruct stores on how to handle and manage customers in such situations.

“With this recent incident, the company was able to respond and evacuate almost everyone from the centre within 15-20 minutes.”

Nattakit Tangpoonsinthana, Chief Marketing Officer of Central Pattana Plc, assured that all Central malls across the nation have enforced a comprehensive set of security measures to ensure the safety of all visitors.

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Alex Morgan

Alex is a 42-year-old former corporate executive and business consultant with a degree in business administration. Boasting over 15 years of experience working in various industries, including technology, finance, and marketing, Alex has acquired in-depth knowledge about business strategies, management principles, and market trends. In recent years, Alex has transitioned into writing business articles and providing expert commentary on business-related issues. Fluent in English and proficient in data analysis, Alex strives to deliver well-researched and insightful content to readers, combining practical experience with a keen analytical eye to offer valuable perspectives on the ever-evolving business landscape.

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