Crackdown On “Zero-Dollar Tour” Affects Thai Tourism

White beach by a blue sea that mirrors the sky and the racing multi-coloured clouds above it: This is just one mesmerizing sea view in Patong . But it seems many international tourists are missing this magnificent and other similar attractions in Thailand.


The country saw a decline of tourist arrivals lately following government crackdown against low cost tour packages that deprive Thai nationals and the country of fair income from the industry.


Overseas Tourist Operators deprived Thailand of Income


According to authorities, only a small amount of money is spent in Thailand with this type of operations since overseas owners control the whole of the supply chain.


Two tour agencies, one in Phuket and one in Bangkok, have been shut down by authorities on the grounds of money laundering and selling to Chinese tourists cheaply priced-tour packages.


Although the sea view in Patong is always spell-binding and alluring for tourists, tour agencies are concerned about how much they would actually earn. Phuket tour boat operator Abdullah Wisutchon shared that tourism money does not reach their pockets because it goes to Chinese-owned tour operators who have their own buses and boats.


Effect of the ‘Zero-Dollar Tour’ Crackdown


The ‘zero-dollar tour’ crackdown consequently brought down arrivals of Chinese visitors by about 12 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2016, compared to the previous year.


Optimism is High


Despite the cheap tours’ crackdown and the ensuing decline in arrivals, Thailand tourism officials are optimistic tourism activities will rebound during this year’s high season.


Channel News Asia gathered that Phuket officials are optimistic for an increase in the number of arrivals.

Governor Chockchai Dejamorn than of Phuket said that 12,000 high-spending Chinese nationals are expected to visit the province between December this year and March next year.


What Government is Doing and the Different Views


Despite the optimism expressed by officials, some locales are worried and expects tough times are coming.The Thai government is making moves for tour operators overseas to be imposed with new price regulations which are designed to bring in the money-spending “quality tourists.” There are those that disagree with the approach because “zero-dollar-tours” – referring to the cheap tours, have helped income generation for the locals.


There are industry players that think government need to improve tax data base of tour operators to make sure the government earns steady income.Another recommendation is to expand local capabilities like language training for improved gains from tourism.


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