The Thai Hotels Association may ask the junta to use its near-absolute power to force unregistered hotels out of business, as police have been doing little to tackle the problem.
Surapong Techaruvichit, president of the THA, said the hospitality sector had considered speaking directly with the military-led regime about the problems caused by unregistered hotels and asking it to use the interim constitution's Article 44 to get rid of such illegal operations.
"The association and registered operators believe that if Article 44 is used, the number of non-registered properties will decrease," he said.
According to the THA, more than half of the hotels in the market are unregistered.
It is estimated that of the more than 18,000 hotels in the country, only 8,000 are registered, comprising 400,000 rooms. That leaves more than 10,000 hotels with more than 400,000 rooms operating illegally.
In Bangkok alone, it is estimated that there are more than 300 illegal hotels, and many more are in major tourist destinations such as Phuket, Chiang Mai, Pattaya and Hua Hin/Cha-am. These illegal properties include serviced apartments, guest houses, condominiums, houses and other private properties that provide accommodations for tourists. They are not registered as hotels with the Interior Ministry's Department of Provincial Administration (DPA), the official unit that approves and issues hotel licences.
Surapong said the THA had provided lists of illegal hotels to police, but since 2014, only 20 hotels had been charged and fined Bt3,000-Bt10,000 each.
Most of them have resumed operations. Some have been charged more than once, but remain in the market.
Last year, the association gave the names of 10 illegal hotels to police, but only a few hotels were charged.
"We don't know why police are unable to help us with these hotels, so we will ask the government for help," Surapong said.
The latest to be charged was Pangsawan Place Hotel in Chiang Mai. It was charged by officers of the DPA with operating in violation of laws governing hotels.
It was one of nine illegal hotels charged in 2014. The other eight were in seven tourist destinations.
The THA claims that unlicensed hotels may offer substandard quality and could even be unsafe for guests, damaging the entire tourism industry.