Minister vows to plug Elite Card loopholes
Brokers in China allegedly touting privilege cards to shady operators seeking to stay in Thailand
published : 31 Jan 2023 at 20:12
writer: Online Reporters
Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn has vowed to plug loopholes in Thailand Elite Card to prevent Chinese nationals involved in grey businesses from using the privilege cards to enter the country.
Mr Phiphat said on Tuesday that the ministry was willing to cooperate fully with police to investigate brokers in China who allegedly used privilege cards to facilitate the entry of compatriots involved in illicit businesses. Any loopholes in the application of the cards would be plugged, he added.
Jirayu Huangsap, an MP from the opposition Pheu Thai Party, said in parliament that shady Chinese business operators had become members of the programme operated by Thailand Privilege Card (TPC), which is owned by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).
The news sparked public outrage in a week when a Taiwanese actress claimed Thai police extorted 27,000 baht from her and a VIP police escort service for Chinese tourists hit the headlines.
Mr Phiphat said he had asked the TAT to follow up comments on Thailand Elite Card from social media to prevent any damage to the reputation of the country’s tourism sector.
“The ministry will increase measures to inspect the status of companies or agents that sell Thailand Elite Cards and the status of cardholders every two years,” he said.
“Anyone found to have broken the law or affected public order or morality that affects the image of the company’s business operations, especially the fraudulent use of benefits in the cards and failure to comply with membership conditions, will have his or her membership revoked immediately.”
The ministry needed to step up its public relations effort to create a better understanding regarding the use of Thailand Elite Card, address management errors and emphasise strict law enforcement, he said.
Elite Card members’ privileges are described in the company’s regulations.
Members are eligible for reception at the airport, being escorted to fast-track immigration, baggage claim, and a limousine transfer to their destination. Numerous other benefits are available to members during their stay in the country, depending on the membership tier chosen. Elite Card membership schemes cost from 600,000 baht to 2 million baht.
Mr Phiphat said earlier that the TAT and the ministry denied any involvement in the provision of services that are not outlined in the Elite Card’s regulations.