Thailand’s tourism and sports minister has responded to allegations that members of the Elite Card program have been linked to dodgy Chinese businesses – the same Chinese and Chinese businesses that are being linked to the ongoing ‘Tuhao’ investigation.
Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn says he’s asked the Royal Thai Police to look into the claims, saying they will potentially “affect Thailand’s tourism sector and overall reputation”.
Tourism operators have suggested the Elite Card application process be linked to international police so that criminal checks can be carried out. Phiphat says that as part of the current process, Thailand Privilege Card, which operates the Elite Card program, sends applicants’ personal information to the Immigration Bureau and the Department of Consular Affairs, who carry out criminal checks.
According to a Bangkok Post report, the tourism ministry has introduced extra pre-screening measures, such as checking the status of members and appointing new sales agents every 2 years, who are responsible for verifying applicants’ qualifications.
“If any of them are reported acting illegally, the minister will urgently withdraw those memberships.”
Responding to claims that the Elite Card is being sold for inflated prices overseas, Phiphat says neither the ministry nor TPC can be held responsible for what happens abroad.
Meanwhile, the president of the Phuket Tourist Association says TPC should have a digital database linked to international organisations like Interpol. Thaneth Tantipiriyakij says this could be used to carry out criminal checks and might stop suspicious individuals from applying.
Thaneth says the Elite Card is a popular option among high-spending visitors from places like Europe, Australia, and China, adding that Phuket regularly welcomes such groups since Covid travel restrictions were lifted.
SOURCE: Bangkok Post