Hotels continue to batter OrBorJor

PHUKET: With just three days to go before the new provincial hotel tax comes into force, hoteliers have continued to assail the Provincial Administration Organization (OrBorJor) with criticism and threats of lawsuits and even industrial action. During a meeting at the Patong Resort yesterday, with mostly middle-level employees from 140 Patong hotels, the hotels argued that the way the Phuket OrBorJor is applying the tax conflicts with regulations issued by the Ministry of Interior. “In the original regulation issued by the Ministry of Interior, it mentions nothing about the hotels being liable if they fail to collect the tax. It only mentions the penalty for tourists who fail to pay the tax,” a leading member of the Phuket Tourism Association (PTA), who asked not to be named, told the Gazette. He added that if the OrBorJor starts collecting the tax from Sunday without first changing its penalties and the tax rates charged, then the PTA will have to bring legal action against the OrBorJor. The OrBorJor, he argued, should levy a flat rate per hotel guest, regardless of the size of the hotel. During the meeting, one manager of a four-star resort in Patong threatened that if the OrBorJor continues in its efforts to collect the tax, the resort will encourage its staff to stage demonstrations. Hanchai Chantarachota, chairman of the OrBorJor Tourism Committee, said, “We do not want any such protest because it could create a bad image for both Phuket and the country. The OrBorJor does not want any violence,” he added. Hotel representatives countered that it was not demonstrations, but the tax that would damage the image of Phuket, to which K. Hanchai retorted that this wasn’t a worry as the OrBorJor would use the money to develop tourism, thereby improving the image of Phuket. “Moreover,” he said, “0.5% is not too much for tourists – it’s only 50 satang for each 100 baht paid.” K. Hanchai said the OrBorJor expects that only about 100 hotels will pay the hotel tax with effect from Sunday. This figure, he said, would include hotels of every level. After October 1, the OrBorJor will continue its efforts to explain the tax to hotels that may still have questions, as well as contacting any that have not yet registered. Apart from the hotel industry, the OrBorJor’s tax seems to have wide support among tourism-related businesses. One travel agent who has operated in Phuket for almost 20 years told the Gazette, “They [the hotels] should pay if the money will benefit Phuket’s tourism, its people and the community. “Travel agents in Phuket are facing a problem too – the increase in national park entry fees,” he added. “I have to contact about 200 to 300 agents around the world to inform them of this possible additional cost.” A manager of a leading jewelry and souvenir shop in Phuket also said he supports the tax. He said, “If one day, such a tax were imposed on our business, I am positive that we wouldn’t mind paying, if we could be assured that the revenue would be used to improve the island’s standard of living and to attract more tourists to Phuket.”

Phuket News

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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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