Zero-dollar tours return

A group of tourists take a tour opposite Wat Arun in Bangkok at the new Tha Tien Pier. Photo by Nutthawat Wichieanbut
A group of tourists take a tour opposite Wat Arun in Bangkok at the new Tha Tien Pier. Photo by Nutthawat Wichieanbut

The problem of zero-dollar tours has returned with even lower prices, targeting inbound tourists from China, Russia and India.

This trend has begun to ravage the tourism industry because of the poor quality of the tours, leaving licensed Thai operators unable to compete, said the Association of Thai Travel Agents (Atta).

Atta said recently more groups of foreigners are operating tour companies in Thailand, using nominees to hide their illegal activities.

These illegal operators slash the prices of their tour packages, or offer tour packages without any tour fares.

Buyers of such packages are forced to buy additional services or products at very high prices from specific shops purposely set up to exploit tourists, said Atta.

These practices were common among the inbound Chinese market in the past, but now illegal operators are targeting Russian and Indian markets using the same tactics.

Atta said the zero-dollar tours are damaging the image of Thai tourism, portraying the country as a cheap and unsafe place for tourists as visitors are physically or verbally made to buy items they don't want.

The strategy will generate less income for the economy as the illegal operators avoid taxes and do not use local products and services, Atta said.

Atta said the government, private sector and Chinese officials should work together to fix this issue within one year.

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  • common: ordinary; not unusual or special - ธรรมดา; สิ่งที่เห็นได้บ่อยๆ
  • exploit: to treat someone unfairly in order to get some benefit for yourself - หาประโยชน์จาก
  • force (noun): making someone do something that they don't want to do - การบังคับ
  • nominee: a legal arrangement whereby investments are held by a a person or company on behalf of the real owner - ผู้รับถือหุ้นให้บุคคลอื่นที่ไม่ต้องการจะเปิดเผยตัวตน
  • operator (noun): a person or company that runs a business - ผู้ดำเนินกิจการทางธุรกิจ, ผู้ประกอบธุรกิจ
  • private sector: businesses and industries that are not owned or controlled by the government - ภาคเอกชน
  • ravage: to destroy something or damage it very badly - ทำให้เสียหาย, ทำลาย, ล้างผลาญ
  • slash: (of a budget, price, etc.) to cut, especially by a large amount - ตัด
  • trend: a gradual change or development that produces a particular result   - ทิศทาง แนวโน้ม
  • zero-dollar tour (noun): paying a low price for a tour package but then being pressured into buying overpriced items -

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