Thailand seeking ways to minimise below quality online prices
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and the recently-established Online Tourism Club (Thailand) are seeking ways to minimise online operators that sell lower quality tour packages, especially in the Chinese FIT (Free Independent Traveller) sector, to protect the interests of both tourists and the Thai tourism service providers.
TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn said: “Tourism is vital to Thailand’s economy, so it is the job of the public and private sectors to work together to ensure high standards as well as standardise prices. We must ensure that tourism remains sustainable and fair for everyone, and that all tourists continue to feel welcome and valued.”
The initiatives to minimise below quality online prices are inline with the Royal Thai Government’s recent implementation of measures aimed at eradicating tours which take advantage of visitors to Thailand, especially group tours from China. The measures have been successful in protecting group tourists, but newer cases of low prices offered by online overseas agents in China have emerged, many aimed at the FIT sector. Attempts to address this led to a meeting of Thai tourism industry players in December 2016, which resulted in the formation of the Online Tourism Club (Thailand) in January this year.
President of the Online Tourism Club (Thailand) Nipon Boonmasuwaran said, “Some online travel agents are more interested in increasing website traffic and building databases in order to boost their company’s shareholding values than in offering memorable holidays to tourists planning trips to Thailand. By selling lower prices, they have undermined the industry creating unfair conditions for operators. Now, we need to tackle unscrupulous operators targeting FIT travellers.”
The Club, which is made up of 44 members who represent tour operators and attractions across Thailand, is currently working together with TAT and the related public and private agencies to stem the practice of the below quality online prices selling in the FIT market, especially in China. This is a sector with huge growth potential for Thailand and many FIT travellers seek out tickets and deals via online channels.
TAT Deputy Governor of Marketing – Asia and South Pacific Srisuda Wanapinyosak said, “TAT is pleased to extend our assistance by helping to promote the standard pricing of the Club’s members via our communication channels. We will also organise road shows to Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou where online Thai tourism operators can meet with operators of 10 major Chinese travel websites to discuss cooperation. They will also sign under a memorandum of understanding to demonstrate their commitment to promote fair competition.”
In addition, TAT will help to promote the initiative by the Online Tourism Club (Thailand) at the Thailand Travel Mart Plus 2017 as well as through its five offices in China. Any travel agents who want to join the Club can register via email email@example.com
During the first four months of this year, Thailand welcomed 12 million visitors, spending around 620 billion Baht, an increase of 4.71% from the same period last year. In this number, 7.5 million came from East Asia, generating 308 billion Baht. China remained the leading source market at about 3.2 million arrivals, who generated 161 billion Baht in tourism revenue.