BANGKOK - Deputy Prime Minister Yukhon Limlamthong has ordered the Tourism Ministry to help visitors who get cheated by travel agencies by lodging legal complaints on their behalf. Yukhon, who looks after the ministry, has ordered its permanent secretary Suwat Sidthilaw to make a list of the deceived victims. The names will be sorted into groups to lodge complaints against wrongdoers, making clear the problems from case to case.
The ministry's Tourism Department licences tour operators, so when consumers suffer from unfair services offered by operators, the ministry has to lend a helping hand to them, he believes.
About 200 domestic tourists lost a lot of money recently when they bought allegedly bogus tour packages for the Phupranang Resort and Spa in Krabi from the Phupranang Travel Agency at travel fairs.
Yukhon realised that unfair service in Thailand was on the rise in various forms, along with the tourism boom.
He said what he would do is build tourists' confidence and standardise services in the tourism industry.
Some tourism operators are also worried. They have urged the government to do more, especially take legal action with clear punishment in order to teach a lesson to existing operators.
One possible measure would be to issue certificates to qualified operators that guaranteed their service. This would boost consumers' confidence before they decide to buy.
Thai travellers should also be looked after during the ongoing political turmoil. The ministry was ordered to consider offering insurance to local tourists, not only to foreign tourists.
Claims would be paid out of a fund established by the government. This is aimed at ensuring fairness for all holidaymakers.
Death or injury caused by a political riot is not covered by travel insurance.