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Dual-pricing is scaring tourists away
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  1. #1
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    Dual-pricing is scaring tourists away

    Dual-pricing is scaring tourists away

    The Nation September 4, 2014 1:00 am

    The widespread practice of overcharging foreign visitors must be curbed if Thai tourism is to prosper again
    Thailand's tourism industry has been adversely affected by years of street protests, political violence and, recently, martial law imposed by the coup-makers. But the widespread practice of overcharging and double-pricing is also playing a major role in scaring visitors away from Thai shores.

    Long-term foreign residents and regular visitors to Thailand have been complaining about a "two-tier" pricing system for years. Though some visitors may regard paying a little extra just a minor nuisance, others feel they are being discriminated against and point out that the discrepancy can be large, with foreigners charged double or more.

    Tourists and foreign expatriates who do not speak or read Thai often fall prey to greedy taxi drivers, street vendors and other business operators. They also experience dual-price entry fees for tourist attractions such as national parks or temples. At popular Bangkok sites like Wat Phra Kaew (the Temple of the Emerald Buddha) and Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha) locals are let in free while foreigners pay to enter.

    And to get there, tourists may have to deal with taxi drivers who refuse to use the meter for foreign passengers, who can then find themselves paying double or triple for the trip. So common is this practice among cab drivers, that a foreign tourist made the news recently for expressing gratitude to a cabby who had agreed to turn on the meter.

    Well-known local blogger Richard Barrow recently publicised plans to increase the entry fee for foreigners at Wat Pho, from Bt100 to Bt200, starting in January. "The price remains free for Thais. The argument is that Thais will make merit by donating money. But what about the Thai Muslims, Christians and Sikhs, etc, who also get in for free? Why is that fair when foreign Buddhists have to pay so much?" wrote Barrow on his website. (Link here)

    Overcharging and double-pricing are also a problem for foreign tourists in some other countries. But the problem is a perennial topic of discussion among visitors to the Kingdom and is damaging Thailand's reputation. This means that it is likely scaring away prospective tourists and discouraging repeat visits.

    "It begins with the people", declares the Tourism Authority's "Amazing Thailand" campaign, suggesting that the friendliness of ordinary Thais is the main lure for foreigner visitors. Indeed, Thailand's deserved reputation as the "land of smiles" attracts millions of tourists. But when "the people" turn greedy and selfish, the smile fades and so does the attraction for would-be visitors.

    Tourism is a major revenue-earner for Thailand, accounting for about 10 per cent of the economy. In the first seven months of this year, tourist arrivals totalled 13.62 million, down 10.7 per cent from 15.26 million a year earlier.

    The authorities have taken several measures in a bid to woo back visitors. These include waiving visa fees for Chinese tourists, who constitute the largest group of visitors to Thailand, and extending the maximum permitted length of stay for tourists from 48 countries. Campaigns have been organised in Asean countries like Singapore and Indonesia in a bid to persuade their nationals to visit Thailand again.

    However, if we are serious about attracting more tourists to the Kingdom, we need to put the smile back on the face of this land by curbing the practices of overcharging and dual-pricing.
    Last edited by Khun Don; 04-09-14 at 07:42 PM.

  2. #2
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    Re: Dual-pricing is scaring tourists away

    "Dual Price System in Thailand"-Dedicated website giving many examples .

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    Re: Dual-pricing is scaring tourists away

    The above article stirs up mixed feelings.

    First of all, many of Thailand's neighbouring countries also practise dual-pricing so why do some tourists single out only Thailand? For example, in Vientiane last year, I was quoted $2 for a bunch of bananas at Talat Sao, when I would expect to pay no more than $1.20 for something similar in Singapore. I quickly did my Math and decided that no way would bananas in Laos cost almost twice the price of what it would cost in a more affluent country right in the same ASEAN region; a country that does not grow its own bananas and has to depend on imports. I quietly tried to bargain for a lower price, the stall owner would have nothing of it, refused to bargain, and when I put it down and started to walk away, she threw me such an indignified stare at the scrooge that I was; that how dare I try to undercut her with something lower than the cost price of the bananas. In fact, I found in up-and-coming countries like Laos that when they tried to overcharge, they tend to overcharge more outrageously without any intention or sensibility to back down or settle with something more reasonable, unlike in Thailand, possibly because people from newer economies have yet to learn how much is reasonable overcharging that will still leave both the locals and the foreign customers in smiles, both having gained from the deal. Yet, tourists still arrive to Laos in droves, more and more it seems, every year. No one seems to be complaining or taking a case up against Laos. Maybe, Thailand, being the Big Brother who had almost monogamously enjoyed all the glaring international attention from tourists the past four decades, had on the flip side got to deal with its fair share of criticisms, just like the Hollywood superstars (while others fly under the radar for having been guilty of the same).

    On a side note, I found out a day after the Talat Sao incident that I was right; a bunch of bananas costs 20 cents. A local girl looking after her mum's village shop an hour from Vientiane had sold it to me at the local? price.

    Yet, something stirred inside of me this time, when I read the 200% price hike at Wat Pho. I think this is simply greed on the Thai management's end. Maintaining a temple for future generations is a responsibility not only of the foreign Buddhists (now defined by the management as all foreigners, like it or not), but all willing Buddhist devotees. Having to pay to get into a temple already strips away much of the meaning and spirit of a Buddhist temple (or any other places of worship) in the first place, but forcing all Tom, Dick and Harry (or Mary, Nancy, and Susan lol) to pay THB200 is simply the straw that breaks the camel's back. I think the price hike smacks of: Let us keep Wat Pho beautiful for other children, and their children, and their children, but let the foreigners do it for us, while we reap the fruits of their labour.

    The comments that foreign tourists do not contribute if they do not impose the price hike is plain nonsense. I know for a fact that many Buddhists in Singapore, Malaysia, HK, Taiwan etc donate very princely sums to Thai temples in Thailand. In fact, many Buddhists from these countries (at the very least) make it a point to travel to Thailand on a pilgrimage just for the purpose of donating money, making merits at Thai temples. This is evidenced by the many temples in Bangkok and Hatyai which have Chinese inscriptions, names of donors from these countries carved onto the seats and walls of the temples.

    I'm sure there are more than a handful of visitors to Wat Pho who do not donate beyond the entrance fee. But so what? Nobody should ever be made to donate to a Buddhist temple against their will.
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    Re: Dual-pricing is scaring tourists away

    I heard a story of a farang who went to a Wat and when faced with an exorbitant entrance fee, asked the Abbot, "How much does it cost to just go in and pray?" The Abbot reportedly smiled, and said "Nothing of course!". The farang was then alowed to enter without cost.

    Not sure if this is a true story, but it certainly sounds like it could be true.

    RickThai

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    Re: Dual-pricing is scaring tourists away

    In the media report i do not see any objective conclusion that confirms the headline. Also Thai Sikhs will most likely enter with full reverence for Lord Buddha. That of course is my judgement. 'Campaigns have been organised in Asean countries like Singapore and Indonesia in a bid to persuade their nationals to visit Thailand again.' this statement put in this article, by the time you read it, sounds like they have all said we will not go back. But this promotion maybe just about promoting repeat tourists & not saying - sorry, please come back. I am not sure. Just some thoughts. I am soft on dual pricing...do not see it as discriminating as such. Just as I do not see someone richer than me paying a heavy tip and getting better service :p
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    Re: Dual-pricing is scaring tourists away

    But you are not getting better service-you are getting exactly the same service as someone who pays up to 900% less than you, a tourist,and, in some cases, judging by the quality of the cars in the visitors car parks,is considerably richer than you will ever be.
    It is pure discrimination on nationality-and skin colour.

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    Re: Dual-pricing is scaring tourists away

    I thought the dual pricing is for all foreigners equally? Guess, many people from West would be identifiable easier though. Keeping aside the temple example, for me, dual pricing is just a business decision. If they loose tourist because of it turns out expensive, its just a bad decision I feel. Not discrimination?
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    Re: Dual-pricing is scaring tourists away

    The fact that the decision or ruling was made to charge westerners more is an act of discrimination.

    The implication is that western visitors to Thailand just happen to have lots of money in the bank and in their pockets. The truth is that many people save for years to have a special trip to another country.

    Like a lot of other people, I believe in "voting with my pocketbook". When I was married to a Thai man and traveled with his family I never was charged farang price. There was always at least one person in the group with a very authoritative voice who prevented it. If I ever go again I will not visit those places. Like has already been mentioned here, there are lots of temples and other venues which can be visited for free, or at a reasonable rate.

    I wonder if there is a thread here about such places. Does anyone recall?

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    Re: Dual-pricing is scaring tourists away

    yes, i can imagine its aimed with westerners in mind because they are perceived richer. But its again about a business view. I still cannot see it as discrimination. Its still applied to all outsiders? I am sorry, if I am getting a serious subject like discrimination wrong, but I am still not clear.

    Or are you saying for example, if it was some other region who were perceived similarly richer and visiting as westerners do in numbers...they would not charge more?
    Last edited by trangam; 05-09-14 at 01:02 AM.
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    Re: Dual-pricing is scaring tourists away

    Maybe we just have a different viewpoint and opinion. Here is a definition of discrimination:

    "The unjust of prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things . . . "

    https://www.google.com/webhp?sourcei...discrimination

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