Thailand Takes A Page From The Donald Trump Playbook
It’s early morning in Japan, and outside my window typhoon inspired rain is gaining momentum. Thankfully I’m inside, warm, dry and have two cups of coffee lined up. The second one, just in case.
My email in box is seeing a steady stream of questioning messages about the new Thai visa-on-arrival fee increase of 100% that kicks in September 27th. From THB1000 to 2000, the volume market of China and some others will likely see wholesaler and tour operators trying to figure out how to pass the cost on, plus will likely look at Plan B options.
Perhaps someone in Bangkok didn’t get the memo about the recent bomb blast in Southern Thailand. Everywhere I have been traveling overseas the past few weeks the first question that comes up after I mention listing in the country is “what about the bombs?”
Of course most media accounts seem to reflect the simple message that nothing has changed and everything is okay But sentiment and image are key to tourism and there has been some tarnish. The decision now to double fees in a shot directly at our biggest tourism markets would appear to be ill advised. Why announce a massive promotional campaign post event to get the gravy train back on the road, and then step outside and shoot the industry in the back with a significant cost increase?
Will the cost increase mean that service at airport lines will be improved and more so in the quest for quality instead of quantity, shouldn’t this mandate also be for the AoT, Immigration and other tourism facing departments to step up their acts also to provide better products and services?
Over the past year we have seen most of our Southeast Asian neighbor loosen visa policies to increase Chinese travelers as they view Thailand’s surging numbers with envy and desire. Why are we now so intent rejecting those who wish to come to the Kingdom spend money and come often? They can and will go elsewhere, with the main driving factor being cost.
Thankfully Donald Trump is a world away but the concept of his wall which would cut off an entire nation from a friendly neighbor has found its way East. Should Thailand put up a wall, which in this case is an economic one when the main goal in the second half of 2016 is to look at recovery? The logic of this move escapes me, and more importantly the Thai tourism sector needs to be vocal on what could be a significant sideways venture.
That second cup of coffee calls. Bill out.