Vol. II No. 19 Saturday 10 May - 16 May 2003
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LETTERS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

TAT needs to attract foreign tourists

Canít compare the bureaucracies

Enjoyed the choral night

When will the heat end?

TAT needs to attract foreign tourists

Editor;

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 tourists away.

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.

Paul Millard


Canít compare the bureaucracies

Editor;

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 receipt".

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.

Sincerely,

Paul Schoenkopf


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.

Mary Kent


When will the heat end?

Dear Editor,

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?

Jason L.

Chiang Mai



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