Illegal tour groups forced to close

A group of Chinese visitors during a tour of Wat Phra Kaeo and Sanam Luang in Bangkok.  (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)
A group of Chinese visitors during a tour of Wat Phra Kaeo and Sanam Luang in Bangkok.  (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)

The Tourism and Sports Ministry has investigated illegal tour companies offering extremely cheap packages, forcing 10 of them to close.

Tour agencies said these grey market companies already account for 50% of Chinese tour groups in Thailand.

The minister's action is in response to a call from the Association of Thai Travel Agents, which recently raised concerns about the return of ultra-cheap inbound packages. These packages promise very low fares to buyers, then once in Thailand they force tourists into shopping and spending at inflated prices.

Six governmental agencies set up a joint operational centre to crack down on tour businesses using nominees and offering lower-than-cost packages over the past six months.

After investigating 30 tour companies, the Tourism Department forced 10 companies to close.

Thai nationals determined to be nominees are banned from operating a tour business for five years and are subject to punishment including prison sentences for both Thais and foreigners.

The centre prosecuted 10 foreigners for illegally working as tour guides with these 10 companies, as this job is reserved for Thais.

If the Thai government wants to crack down on the large players, who are the same firms and individuals that conducted zero-dollar tours a decade ago, it might have to seek cooperation with Beijing, the Tourism Council of Thailand said.

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  • agency (noun): a company or organisation that arranges for some service or workers to be provided to other companies and people - บริษัทตัวแทน, สำนักงานตัวแทน, หน่วยงานบริการ
  • concern: interest or worry - ความสนใจ, ความกังวล
  • cooperation: working together to achieve a result that will benefit all sides - ความร่วมมือ, การทำงานร่วมกัน
  • crack down on: to start dealing with someone or something much more strictly - จัดการ, ลงมือปราบปราม
  • force (verb): to make someone do something that they don't want to do - บังคับ
  • grey market: where a product is bought and sold outside of what is allowed by the manufacturer; the business of secretly buying and selling goods in a way that might not be illegal but that is considered morally wrong -
  • inbound: travelling towards a particular point, particularly into a city - ขาเข้า (opposite of outbound ขาออก)
  • inflated: (of a price) higher than it should be - ซึ่งเฟ้อ
  • nominee: a legal arrangement whereby investments are held by a a person or company on behalf of the real owner - ผู้รับถือหุ้นให้บุคคลอื่นที่ไม่ต้องการจะเปิดเผยตัวตน
  • player (noun): a person, organization or company involved in some activity or industry -
  • prosecute: to officially accuse someone of a crime and ask a court of law to judge them - ดำเนินคดี
  • punishment: an act or a way of punishing somebody - การลงโทษ

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