Zero Dollar Chinese Tour Groups Under The Gun
While Mainland China is spurring a sustained drive in Thailand tourism, one key element that is undermining the industry is “zero dollar” tourism.
What is “zero dollar” tourism? These are essentially Chinese tour operators who work with local counterparts to take mostly Mainland travelers to a series of jewelry shops, attractions, entertainment venues who mark-up goods and services at high value prices. They essentially avoid local establishments and work with affiliates or with high-commission levels pushing prices up.
This is not a small industry and as the Bangkok Post reported (see article) this week it’s a billion baht industry and the revenue coming in is being funneled back to Mainland China, and there is large-scale avoidance of Thai tax.
It’s impossible to blame the package tourists who come here, as they are the ones being taken advantage of, and falling prey to this sad phenomenon of volume tourism.
From a further perspective Thailand is not the only country seeing the influx of “zero dollar” tourism, one only has to go to Bali and drive along Sunset Road to see the tour buses parked in front of retail shopping megaplexes.
This week’s flurry of media coverage in the national press is a good thing, and clearly the government is looking at addressing the blot on the face of Thai tourism.
That said there is concern that by hitting the “zero dollar” segment that tourism numbers could be hit, but overall addressing the issue will be long term gain for short term pain.