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PHUKET OPINION: Stop ‘zero fare tours’ before they start in Phuket

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET OPINION: Stop ‘zero fare tours’ before they start in Phuket | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Plans by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and three tourism business associations to stop ‘zero tour fare’ operators from setting up in Phuket are laudable, especially given the damage such outfits have already done to the inbound Chinese market in places like Chiang Mai and Pattaya. (See story here.)

Often run out of Bangkok, zero fare tour operators pay foreign travel agencies on a ‘per head’ basis – typically US$50 or US$100 – for each tourist they bring in.

The operators provide the tourists with free accommodation, but to recoup their expenses they take their ‘guests’ on ‘special’ sightseeing tours and shopping sprees, using coercion and reportedly even threats to get the tourists to spend money.

The tour operators make back their costs and exact their profits from (undisclosed) commissions, thus ensuring there is almost no let-up in the high-pressure tactics the captive tourists are forced to endure.

The net result is a holiday hell for the victims, who are held virtually hostage in a foreign land, not knowing where to turn for help and in some cases being abandoned.

Zero tour fare operators have been a major source of complaints to the Chinese government, which last year moved to stop the practice by making it illegal for travel agencies in that country to fly out tourists who have not seen their itinerary details in advance.

Unfortunately, some operators continue the practice – at the expense of Thailand’s reputation in what should be its fastest growing market. As a result, overall tourist arrival figures from China have been falling in recent years, despite China’s strong economy and a number of other positive factors that should be making China the next great tourism frontier for Thailand.

Fortunately, Phuket has largely been spared of zero fare tour operators, in large part because hotels here are generally too expensive for the operators to deal with. In fact, Phuket province has uniquely been enjoying steady growth in tourist arrivals from China, thanks to an increase in the number of direct  flights to the island from Chinese cities.

In another positive development, relatively more Chinese visitors are coming here as independent tourists, freeing themselves of package tours altogether. More Chinese than ever came for last October’s Phuket Vegetarian Festival, eager to catch a glimpse of authentic Chinese cultural traditions that were passed on from generation to generation, unaffected by the Cultural Revolution that destroyed so much of China’s own cultural heritage.

With China currently suffering a gender imbalance of 120 males for every 100 females, the TAT might also wish to consider the future impact of this ratio on tourism here….

— Stephen Fein

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Opinion

“Racial profiling and xenophobic” – a rant against Dual Pricing

The Thaiger

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“Racial profiling and xenophobic” – a rant against Dual Pricing | The Thaiger

The rules are applied in a lumpy fashion at various tourist hot spots around the country as well as some national parks. Sometimes it’s applied, sometimes, not, sometimes there are signs, sometime they make it up as they go, sometimes they will allow local expats in for the Thai price.

There are dual-pricing apologists who say ‘Hey, it’s cheap anyway, so pay up and shut up’. Whilst dual-pricing whiners say it’s unfair, racist and shows a lack of grace towards tourists and foreigners.

Here’s the story from ‘Despondant Foreigner’. You can have your say on the post at our Facebook page

“I would like to share my story with you that happened to me this morning. I visited Promlok waterfall in Nakhon Si Thammaratt with my Thai wife, child and wife’s family. Upon arrival two soldiers approached our car and my wife began talking to them. They explained to her that as today is Songkran all Thai’s get to go to the waterfalls free of charge but I had to pay. Then a woman dressed in yellow approached the car who confirmed what the soldiers said and told my wife that this is a new law. Well we were all disgusted and proceeded to drive back down to the bottom of the waterfall where we could all swim for free.

I am absolutely disgusted by this. Yet another example of Thailand’s racial profiling and xenophobia towards foreigners. The fact that I am married and have children here doesn’t make a difference. Because I have white skin I must pay the fee whilst all Thais go in free.”

SOURCE: ThaiVisa

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Opinion

Fox News fake news, Phuket gets a bullet

Bill Barnett

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Fox News fake news, Phuket gets a bullet | The Thaiger

by Bill Barnett, C9Hotelworks.com

As Phuket moves slowly into low season, a story published in the international media by the US-based Fox News about how tourists could face the death penalty over taking photos at the island’s airport is a highly flaw piece of sensationalist fake news.

Clearly there is no likelihood that the Thai authorities will apply a legal maximum penalty under the Air Navigation Act for tourists posing for selfies as airplanes land. More likely would be a  charge of trespassing and a fine.

Clicking into Google this morning the story is now running with the New York Post, MSN and other news outlets abroad.

What is distressing is to see how news providers sensationalize Thailand and Phuket with little regard as to the consequences of the economic impact of such a story.

For most readers, what they will remember when reading such a piece is only the headline about Phuket, Mai Khao Beach and the death penalty.

What a sorry state of affairs mainstream news has become.

To read the Fox News article clock HERE.

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Election

Is Thanathorn the new Thaksin? Will the ‘establishment’ tolerate his new political vision?

The Thaiger

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Is Thanathorn the new Thaksin? Will the ‘establishment’ tolerate his new political vision? | The Thaiger

Is Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit a popular fad or does he, and his party, have the staying power to make him a sustainable threat to the entrenched Thai political elite?

Many analysts are comparing Thanathorn to Thaksin in his early days. They say there are clear similarities. First off, Thanathorn is facing the kind of legal trouble that Thaksin faced when Thailand’s political crisis started to brew.

After becoming Thailand’s PM, Thaksin faced a share transfer scandal in which he moved his company shares to poor servants, allegedly to avoid stock market restrictions imposed on people owning big lots of stocks. Now, 40 year old Thanathorn is facing a legal controversy over his previous ownership of media shares, which could still doom his election candidacy.

The allegations are yet to be considered by the Election Commission.

Thaksin, in spite of repeated denials, was always alleged to have controversial political ambitions. Thanathorn, meanwhile, is seen in an increasingly similar situation. The list of complaints is growing, many to do with his perceived unorthodox ideology that contrasts with the conservative political ‘Thainess’ that includes non-negotiable support for the Army and Monarchy.

Thanathorn has been criticised for something he said about the Khana Ratsadon Party, which played an instrumental role in changing Thailand’s system from absolute monarchy to constitutional monarchy in 1932. The secretary-general of Thanathorn’s party has also been forced to deny making highly-controversial comments about Thailand’s political culture.

Future Forward did very well on March 24, surpassing pundits’ predictions for the new party. Analysts say the success is due to three main factors — Thanathorn’s youthful image that attracted the majority of first-time voters, the dissolution of the Thai Raksa Chart Party that shifted a lot of votes to Future Forward, and the new party’s fresh ideology and perspectives.

He, and the party, attracted a lot of newer voters along with a core of disaffected voters who are looking for change.

But Thanathorn’s looming legal trouble is described as a potential banana skin. It concerns a large number of shares he had in a media company, which were transferred to his mother so that he could qualify as an election candidate.

One apparently-private document, which he is relying on, showed he transferred the V-Luck Media Company shares on January 8, before he applied for election candidacy. Another document, which his accusers are relying on, apparently showed the transfer was brought to the authorities’ attention after he became an election candidate.

Controversy continues to build around the young billionaire and chances are it will grow.

SOURCES: Thai PBS | The Thaiger

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