TAT needs to attract
Although it is obvious that the Thai authorities are
trying to incorporate some sort of "economy of scale" by lowering
prices at tourist attractions for Thai nationals, hoping that through shear
numbers they will somehow save the economy, what they obviously donít see
is that this would work even better if applied to foreign tourism, which is
what brings the large amounts of foreign currency into the country.
Thailand became popular with foreign tourists in the
beginning because it was cheaper to spend a holiday here. When prices were
low, hordes of tourists flocked to the kingdom and spent tons of money here,
and it didnít matter what else was happening in the world. HIV and AIDS
were "discovered" long before SARS, with unfortunately much more
devastating consequences to those who became afflicted, but still tourists
came. Coups didnít keep tourists away. The first Gulf War didnít keep
I fear, however, that what will keep (foreign) tourists
away is the feeling that they are not wanted, and one of the easiest ways to
instill this feeling is to promote state sponsored double pricing. Nothing
raises the ire of a person more than the feeling of being cheated. When
people see that they are being charged an exponentially larger amount to
visit a tourist attraction than the person standing next to them in line,
they immediately feel cheated, and the most common response would be to
avoid that place.
As we all know, the internet has opened up a whole new
world - not only has communication become instant, but people can now also
read the local news online. Whereas before, one might not know about such a
scheme until after arrival, in todayís world people can read the internet
and find out about such things during the planning stages of their holiday.
And make no mistake about it, given a choice, tourists will spend their
money where they feel they will get the best value, as well as where they
will be made to feel welcome. In no way does state sponsored double pricing
make a potential tourist feel as though they would be welcomed here.
TAT and the likes may actually gain a small injection of
cash into the economy through their current Thais visit Thailand campaign,
but it would be minimal to what they would gain if they decided to promote
"better value" for foreign tourists instead. Forget about state
sponsored double pricing and bring back the "Thailand is still the most
inexpensive and safest destination in the world" campaign, all the
while making sure to do whatever it takes to ensure the statement is true,
and watch how many foreign tourists return.
Canít compare the bureaucracies
In response to "Racism or Not" by Roongrat
Kumnodnab - I donít know where you got your information about getting an
American Tourist Visa but in 1995 I shared a house with a Thai citizen who
was 25 years old, a graduate of CMU, Faculty of Engineering and working for
a Thai/Japanese company. He had started working for them in October 1993. I
invited him to go back to the U.S. with me on a holiday. Like you, he
thought he would never get a visa. He came from a poor family, didnít own
any land, was an only child, and was young and only working one and a half
years. Well, I convinced him to try. This was all his own money and
expenses. I told him that Iíd go to the embassy in Bangkok with him in
case there were interviews, as we had heard, to vouch for his invitation and
places to stay, etc.
We went to the embassy armed with a letter from his
employer giving him permission to go and how good an employee he was, a
bankbook showing 100,000 baht and his passport. He filled out the paperwork,
with my help, asking for a 3-week tourist visa. He walked up to a window,
handed in his passport, the bankbook, the letter, the 500 baht fee then and
his passport. The person behind the counter looked at his documents and
said, "Your visa will be ready at 14:00 tomorrow".
Granted, the company he worked for was owned 51% by the
largest company in Thailand, Siam Cement and the letter was on their
letterhead. He also had spent three months in Japan on a training program
for his work.
He didnít want to take another day off from work and
asked the embassy employee if I could pick up his passport, as we agreed, if
theyíd let me. They said, "no problem as long as I had the
The next day I went to the embassy and picked up his
passport/visa. It was a 10-year multiple entry visa. I was shocked. There is
no way, under ANY circumstances at any price that I could get that in
Thailand, yet he got it for 500 baht (then $20 US).
For me to get a one-year retirement visa I must show
immigration that I have 800,000 baht in the bank. Thatís almost $20,000
US. I also have an American friend whoís been an ajarn at a Thai
government university for over fifteen years and is still considered a
temporary, contract employee.
She started procedures to get Thai citizenship as sheís
married to a Thai and has been here for 19 years with a child. The
bureaucracy put so many obstacles in her way after three years of trying
that she gave up. In America you are eligible for citizenship after five
years. So, I donít think you can compare one country to the other.
Enjoyed the choral night
Dear Chiang Mai Mail,
A compliment to you and the team for providing ĎCommunity
Happeningsí - we would have never known about the concert at Gong Dee
Gallery last week if it would not have been for Chiangmai Mail. We
saw it in the Community Happenings, but when the newspaper reached us
Saturday afternoon and there was a huge ad as a reminder inside, we went and
experienced a surprise. Even my husband, who would have preferred to stay
home and watch TV, was over the moon. It was not at all boring, and in fact
it was a sparkling night and we were so surprised how many people turned up
and were interested in a choral night.
The mix of music, talent and entertainment was something
we rarely experience in Thailand. Hopefully there will be more coming up and
please let the community know again well in advance. What I know for sure is
that we will be there early enough next time in order to get a good seat, or
get a seat at all.
When will the heat end?
Re: Urs Muggenthalerís letter (CMM No. 18) - I totally
agree with Mr Urs and his recommendation to have a weather forecast in CMM.
I am sure you cannot be too precise, since you are only a weekly newspaper,
but it already would help to know if the heat will last or if there is
relief coming. I used to live in Phuket and Rayong for the last 7 years and
just recently moved up to Chiang Mai, so I should be used to Thai weather,
but I am melting. And so is my partner. Talking to friends in the Rayong
area, they say itís hot but not hotter as it used to be with a nice breeze
from the beach. But Chiang Mai is like a melting pot. Any prediction when we
can start a normal life again?