Maj Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd, Government Spokesperson, revealed that the Government had received a lot of complaints about zero-baht tours or inbound tourism kickbacks which are low-cost vacation tours to attract customers while operators rely only on commissions.
These kickback operators conspire with approximately 300 local tour operators, half of which are Thai nominees.These inbound tour operators force tourists into expensive shops and services from which the revenues eventually go back to them, not Thailand.
"Thailand-based businesses that involve in tourism kickbacks include hotels, restaurants, adult clubs& entertainment, and shops selling jewelries, souvenirs, bird’s nest, bags, and herbal medicines. As high as 350 billion Baht has been circulated in the kickback network.
Problems regarding illegal guides, monopoly of rental buses, and improper behaviors of tourists are all the consequences of tourism kickbacks.”
According to the Government Spokesperson, these problems have been ruining Thailand’s image as the country is viewed as cheap tourist destination. This is definitely against the Government’s goal to position Thailand as quality destination.
It has also affected other decent and lawful operators. The Government has engaged Tourism Council of Thailand to help tackle the problem.
Information on proper inbound tour rates will be compiled and sent to the countries of which a large number of tourists have visited Thailand, such as China, South Korea, Russia, for them to help monitor and ban the zero-baht tours to Thailand.
This would also promote FIT (free independent travelers) tourism.
"The Government has information of all the zero-baht tours in hand, and the Prime Minister emphasized that tourism kickbacks must be immediately and strictly addressed by this Government since businesses conspired in tourism kickbacks are mostly connected with political groups.
The number of tourists and tour groups might be reduced as a consequence of tourism kickback suppression, but Thailand would rather focus on quality, not quantity.