Thailand criticised for charging expats more

THE widespread practice of charging foreigners as much as 10 times what Thais pay at local tourist attractions has attracted much criticism.

An online movement has also started and is gathering momentum to publicise the practice.

The timing is particularly appropriate since the country is still closed to foreign travellers and the tourism industry is relying on domestic travellers for survival.

This includes tens of thousands of expatriates who live in the country year-round and pay taxes but have to pay the high fees.

Foreigners who pay 300 baht to enter a national park, compared with Thais who pay 30 baht, are now sharing their experiences and posting photos on the Facebook page 2PriceThailand, which has attracted 6,800 members since it was created on June 16. A companion Twitter account, Two Price Thailand, has 2,100 followers.

Bangkok Post report said the Facebook group was started by Richard Barrow, a longtime British expat and well-known travel blogger with more than 160,000 followers on Twitter.

“We don’t think it is fair that some tourist attractions disguise the fact that they have a dual-price system,” wrote Barrow.

“If they want to overcharge foreign tourists by as much as 200 per cent then that is their decision.

“But don’t do it in a way that is both sneaky and insulting,” he said, referring to the local prices that are written in the local language.

“Many Thais and foreigners agree that the dual-pricing system is hurting the image of both the tourism industry and Thailand itself. Thai people are internationally known for their kind and generous hospitality.

“The actions of a few tourist attractions are damaging that reputation.

“We respectfully request a transparent pricing system in Thailand as the first step. But, ultimately we would like to see the #2PriceThailand policy abolished.”

Many agree that as year-round residents and taxpayers, they should be treated the same as Thais when it comes to travelling in the country.

“They weren’t interested that we worked in Thailand and had Thai spouses,” wrote Katherine Salmon of her experience at Sa Morakot (Emerald Pool), a popular attraction in Krabi, where Thais are charged 20 baht and foreigners 200 baht.

At Phu Hin Rong Kla National Park, admission for Thai adults is 40 baht but foreigners pay 500 baht.

The two-price issue was raised at a recent panel discussion on the tourism outlook at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand.

Tanes Petsuwan, deputy governor for marketing communications for the Tourism Authority of Thailand, said he was not happy about foreigners being subject to dual pricing.

Tanes said he had already raised the issue with officials from the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry.

“We should treat them as equal. This would be a very good time to reform tourism and make it right.”

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