Public urged to buy tour packages from legal operators only
The Tourism and Sports Ministry’s Department of Tourism (DOT) has urged tourists to buy tour packages only from legal operators with proper licences to avoid being victims of unscrupulous businesses.
In the wake of a massive scam during Songkran that sold bogus trips to Japan, Wanasiri Morakul, director-general of the DOT, has reminded tourists that it is more necessary than ever to check if tour operators are properly licensed given an increasing number of fake operators.
“To avoid being cheated, it is important to check if the tour operators are legally registered with proper licences under the 2016 amendment of the 2008 Tour Operators and Tour Guides Act. Since the licences are valid for only two years, it is then necessary for potential buyers to check the dates and years that the licences were issued,” she said.
Other recommendations include the need for potential travellers to check tour operators’ records with the DOT to see if they are facing consumer complaints or if their licences have been suspended. Tourists are also recommended to check tour programmes in detail to ensure they get the services they are paying for.
The same tips apply to online tour purchases: Check the licences and make sure the websites are trustworthy.
Wanasiri also said consumers must keep their receipts, because those documents will be needed if they want to file a complaint or to seek compensation if tour operators fail to deliver on their promises.
“It’s necessary to buy tours from legally registered operators with proper licences because in case of problems the tourists are entitled to receive compensation as well as travel insurance,” she said.
Wanasiri said her department had asked for cooperation from tour operators to show their licence numbers on their brochures and other publications so that consumers can check the licence validity while deciding where to buy tour packages.
At present, there are 10,311 legally registered tour operators, consisting of 3,281 general tour companies, 2,340 inbound tour companies, 1,107 domestic tour companies, and 3,583 local tour operators.
Since 2014, the DOT has received 1,059 complaints. The top three are false advertising (334 complaints), bogus trips (294 complaints) and illegal tour operators (110 complaints).
Tour agencies that operate without an official licence are liable to a maximum two-year jail term and/or a maximum fine of Bt500,000.