I had to laugh at the headline this week in the Khao-Sod (English) over a plan by the Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand to charge a 360 baht fee to tourist to pay for the upkeep of tourist attractions.
This seemed to follow the logic of local house sellers who, when they can’t sell their houses, put the prices up.
I do not know many tourist attractions in Thailand, except the beaches, which the Thai authorities or owners do not charge foreigners for – in some cases four times that of the Thai tourist but it reminded me very much of a plan I was party to about 18 months ago.
A foreigner has put up a plan to charge each tourist 500 baht on arrival for which the tourist would get medical insurance cover. This was to cover the treatment of hundreds every year who fall victim to the perils of Thailand – most in motorcycle or car accidents – and do not have cover.
It seemed there was a nutshell of an idea there. But the foreigner was convinced that on a 1 per cent or 2 per cent ‘creative idea’ commission he was going to be sitting pretty.
He even invited me along for a meeting at Kingpower – the company which operates the Duty Free shops at Suvarnabhumi airport – to discuss the project.
I remember sitting there over Latte in Kingpower’s city centre hotel with Aiyawatt Raksriaksorn wondering why he and Kingpower should pay for such an idea when they can just walk away with it. The hardest work is putting it into practice (getting the government to take it up) and collecting the cash.
The TAT Governor did his mathematics. He reckoned Thailand would benefit by 10.8 billion baht. When I say Thailand I mean of course that in the loosest possible way. But that was charging 360 baht.
My guy was suggesting 500 baht or even 600 baht. He did his maths and reckoned that might make him a dollar millionaire. As he has left the country I think it is safe to report this.
These sort of meetings can only happen in Bangkok. Actually most of the conversation was over Leicester City Football Club which Kingpower own now that was quite interesting.
I think the TAT Governor is a chancer. He should concentrate on getting the tourists back rather than charge double for the tourist attractions