BANGKOK, Thailand – The government should take serious action against tour operators who have cheated consumers, says Yutthachai Soonthronrattanavate, president of the Association of Domestic Travel (ADT).
He raised the concern after 200 domestic tourists were cheated recently after they bought packages for Phupranang Resort and Spa in Krabi from Phupranang tour agents at travel fairs.
The two-day package cost Bt2,590.
Yutthachai said this was evidently a liquidity problem suffered by this one operator, and the incident had not hurt tourists’ confidence or the wider industry so far. However, the government should see to it that such problems do not occur again. Laws should be more tightly enforced and wrongdoers punished as a lesson to others.
He suggested that the government should issue certificates to qualified operators to guarantee their service to boost consumers’ confidence before they decide to buy.
“It’s hard to check how bad a tour agency is. For other products, especially in housing, consumers can check the company profile and also investigate the house quality before deciding to buy it for millions of baht. But for a tourism product, it does not make sense to check out a tour company when the consumer is only putting out Bt2,000,” he said.
Suwat Sidhilaw, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, said tourism licence fees in the provinces were currently too low, only Bt10,000, which tempted unqualified people to jump into the business. He said he would discuss this issue with tourism operators in the near future.
Krit Patarapal, managing director of PK Exhibition Co, which organised the Thailand Travel Expo, said he was unhappy with what happened in the Phupranang case, but it would serve as a reminder for PK when it holds the next fair, and it would be careful to avoid such problems.