BANGKOK, Thailand - The foreign chambers of commerce in Thailand have
urged the government to ensure tourist safety and crack down on illegal
businesses in order to raise the country's competitiveness and sustainable
Stanley Kang, chairman of the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce in
Thailand (JFCCT), which comprises about 30 foreign chambers representing
more than 900 companies and business organisations, said the chamber is
seeking to help and restore the tourism business after the sector was hit
hard by political unrest months ago.
He said Thai tourism had once again been damaged this year due to the
political chaos. A lot of tourists are still worried about visiting the
Kingdom perhaps due to the martial law.
"We [JFCCT] would like to urge the tourists to return to Thailand. The
government should assure visitors full safety and also take good care of
them while travelling in the country," said Kang.
He added that many chambers would explain to people in their countries
about the political situation in Thailand. "Though there is martial law,
it is different from other places," he said.
JFCCT is planning to meet with the tourism and sports minister to discuss
the current situation and further cooperation.
Eric Hallin, tourism committee chief and chairman at JFCCT, said arrivals
to Thailand from October last year to the third quarter of this year fell
by 20 per cent year on year. The drop was mainly due to news coverage on
safety issues in international media following the coup. Also, tourism
businesses faced tough competition.
He said the average occupancy rate at hotels in Bangkok early this month
was 55-60 per cent, which is slightly lower than the normal low season.
However, the number of tourists will increase during the rest of this
month and many more are expected during the high season this year.
According to the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA), the number of
international tourists travelling with ATTA members during January 1 to
September 10 dropped by 40 per cent compared to same period last year.
Travel companies have lost 1.2 million tourists during this period.
ATTA also reported that all of its top 20 inbound markets plunged by 32
per cent compared to the same period last year. Of this, Hong Kong saw the
biggest drop, 79 per cent, while the US market saw the least fall with 17
In order to improve the country's competitiveness and prepare for
sustainable growth, Hallin suggested that the government crack down on all
illegal businesses in the Kingdom.
Nearly 2,000 hotels in Bangkok and its outskirts are running without
licences or are understood to be illegal. Only 469 hotels in the areas
have a licence.
"Registered hotel operators are paying high tax while non-registered ones
are not and they are now hurting the entire sector," said Hallin. There
are also a lot of fake or nominee-run travel companies in the market, who
often cause problems.
Earlier, a group of tourism veterans called on the government to help
reform the industry database as well as clean up inactive policies and