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 July 07, 2000
New Tourism Regulations In Thailand To Protect Tourist Rights

 Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai has declared on two ministerial regulations that will require tour companies to take out compulsory insurance coverage for all their clients, increase the bond deposit for company registration and remove unlicensed guides. The regulations have been in effect since June 7, 2000. According to Tourism Authority of Thailand Governor Pradech Phayakvichien, the two regulations are designed to upgrade safety and security for visitors and provide them with the comfort of knowing that they are dealing with fully licensed and insured companies and tour guides. "In order to further strengthen the country's position as a world-class tourist destination, TAT has always paid full attention to ensuring the safety and security of visitors," said GovernorPradech.

"We realise that the increasing number of visitor arrivals also raises the corresponding risk factor, and these regulations are designed to explicitly ensure that only quality tour companies and guides provide quality services to visitors." Regulation Number 9 (BE 2543 / AD 2000) relates directly to private tour companies and is designed to focus on the protection of rights of visitors while the second Regulation Number 10 (BE 2543 / AD 2000) aims to upgrade the quality of Thai tour guides to meet international standards.

Regulation 9 requires tour operators and travel agents to employ only licensed professional tour guides who hold a tour guide license issued by TAT and also requires these companies to purchase accident insurance for their customers and tour guides. The accident insurance that must be purchased for tour company's customers and tour guides has to have a minimum compensation of 100,000 baht in case of injury and 200,000 baht in case of physical disability or death.

If any tour operators and travel agents employ an illegal tour guide or fail to purchase the specified accident insurance, they will face a fine ranging from 5,000-20,000 Baht and/or the suspension of their business license for a maximum of six months until they can hire a licensed guide or purchase the insurance. Finally, the TAT will permanently cancel their license if they cannot provide proof of having done so.

In addition, the new law also forces tour operators and travel agents to place a higher bond deposit with TAT which will be used to compensate visitors against complaints, if necessary. The deposit is refundable with interest should the company cease operations. The bond deposit amounts range between 10,000-500,000 baht depending on the types of business. The deposit for local tour companies who operate tours only within their respective areas is 10,000 baht, domestic tour companies which operate tours for Thai people within Thailand is 50,000 baht, inbound tour companies which operate tours for foreign visitors within Thailand is 100,000 baht and outbound tour companies is 500,000 baht. Regulation 10 requires all tour guides who graduated from all Thai guide educational and training institutes longer than two years ago to attend another tour guiding course. This new specially designed guide course aims to provide updated information on the Thai and global tourism situation. Only those tour guides who appear for this course will have their licenses renewed.

Governor Pradech noted that these new regulations were also important to ensure delivery of quality services in the age of the Internet when many visitors by-pass tour companies and attempt to make their own direct arrangements by using just the services of a local licensed guide.

"Now, visitors are free to travel around independently if they wish, but if they choose to use the services of a local tour company or just a freelance guide, they will have the security of knowing that they are dealing only with licensed and registered companies and that we can be contacted in case of complaints."