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Government shuts down 10 zero-dollar tour companies


Following a complaint from the Association of Thai Travel Agents, the Tourism and Sports Ministry has shut down 10 companies offering very cheap tour packages, primarily to Chinese travellers, aka. zero-dollar tours.

ATTA president Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn met with PM Srettha Thavisin to discuss the scourge of zero-dollar tours. The tours offer flights and accommodation at well below their real price, but the price travellers pay for that (literally) is in the many unscheduled and hidden trips to shops offering commissions (up to 50%) while selling to travellers at highly inflated prices.

Tourism minister Sermsak Pongpanit has responded to ATTA’s complaint by instructing the Tourism Department to take action against such companies. Jaturon Phakdeewanit director-general of the department, says a total of 30 companies were investigated, with 10 of them shut down.

In addition, 10 foreigners have been prosecuted for working illegally as tour guides, a profession reserved for Thai nationals. Thai nationals found to be acting as illegal nominees face a 5-year ban from operating a tour company and could also be subject to prison time.

Meanwhile, the Bangkok Post reports that the Tourism Department has set its sights on another 10 companies deemed “suspicious”.

The vice-president of the Tourism Council of Thailand says such companies have been “price dumping” since last year with little to no interference from the government. Surawat Akaraworamat adds that licenced tour companies have switched to corporate travel due to the lack of business from the leisure market.

Surawat says zero-dollar tours didn’t originate with any of the 10 companies that have just been shut down. For that, he says, the government needs to find the really big players and that will require cooperation from China.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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