TAT to assist tourists stranded by FTI
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TAT to assist tourists stranded by FTI

Tourists visit Koh Khai in Tarutao National Park in Satun on Feb 17. (Photo: Pornprom Satrabhaya)
Tourists visit Koh Khai in Tarutao National Park in Satun on Feb 17. (Photo: Pornprom Satrabhaya)

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has pledged to help stranded tourists affected by the bankruptcy of major German tour operator FTI Group, while continuing to work with government officials to ensure hotels receive payments from the company.

There are still no reports of stranded tourists, said Siripakorn Cheawsamoot, TAT deputy governor for Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Americas.

He said hotel operators should tell TAT if they have clients from FTI that are unable to travel back home, allowing the agency to offer them assistance.

Mr Siripakorn said once FTI filed for insolvency on June 3, all departures scheduled for after that date were cancelled.

He said there were a number of FTI clients in Thailand who departed from their countries before the announcement. This group will not be affected by the bankruptcy, as well as clients who bought travel packages from other companies using FTI as a trading platform, said Mr Siripakorn.

Since June 3, TAT has been monitoring daily arrivals from German markets, noting the flow is consistent at 1,000 on average, similar to May.

However, as the insolvency can create a severe impact for hotels because of FTI's large market share, which typically contributed more than 100,000 bookings per year to Thailand, the agency already reported this issue to the tourism and sports minister.

He said authorities will help hotels monitor this issue, particularly in terms of compensation, as the Thai Hotels Association (THA) reported losses have already reached 111 million baht.

Customer payments for rooms booked through FTI are insured by the German Travel Security Fund (GTSF).

The TAT is investigating legal procedures to find out how Thai hotels can receive those payments for guests who already finished their holidays and made lodging payments through FTI, said Mr Siripakorn.

The THA suggested yesterday the TAT develop an alert system to deal with future risks of financial collapse among their tour partners in Europe.

He said TAT overseas offices would take a more active approach in monitoring such incidents, as European tour operators have been playing a more crucial role in the Thai tourism market since the pandemic.

"European travellers prefer booking hotels and flights via tour operators as their payments are protected by law, such as the GTSF," said Mr Siripakorn.

"This trend is growing as tourists who booked individually had difficulties in receiving compensation from hotels in faraway destinations when they had to cancel their trips during the pandemic."

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