China and Thailand Ink MoU to Build up Quality Tourism

A group of Chinese tourists striking the pose in front of the Grand Palace in Bangkok (February 2016)

Thailand is expecting to welcome this year some 10 million of Chinese travellers this year compared to 7.9 million last year, a growth of 20%. However, a portion of these travellers were coming until now under a “zero-dollar tour” operation network.

These “zero-dollar tours” are trips where Chinese travellers are taking to a compulsory shopping tour where they will have to buy overpriced goods and pay for overpriced services as well. Such a practice has been largely condemned and denounced for many years. But it seems only now that the Thai government has been acting swiftly to stop that kind of business.

Last September, China and Thailand inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to build a joint tourism supervision mechanism to develop and nurture quality tourism. The MoU was signed by Thai Ministry of Tourism and Sports and China Nation Tourism Administration, after a meeting on cracking down illegal tour operation and ensuring safety of tourists of the two countries, reported Chinese News Agency Xinhua.

Thai Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul said then that the core of the MoU is to set up mutual mechanisms to regulate the operation of tour agencies in both countries, to cope with emergencies in tourism and provide training for qualified Chinese and Thai speaking tour guides.

The MoU was signed at the time of  crackdowns on the country’s biggest zero-dollar tour operation network in late August and early September. Tourist police busted five Bangkok companies alleged to operate illegal, poor-quality package tours and related businesses catering mostly to Chinese tourists.