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Laguna Phuket Adopts 'Secret' Coded Double Pricing for Challenge Triathlon

Thursday, June 20, 2013
PHUKET: Dual pricing has been raised as an issue again, this time in relation to the Laguna Phuket Tri-Fest, scheduled for Phuket in November.

One of Thailand's top bloggers, Richard Barrow, has started the debate in a lively column at his site.

He happens to think that Laguna Phuket should have declared what they were doing with entry fees, and he's probably right.

Here's what Mr Barrow and a couple of others have to say on his site:

Richard Barrow: I can understand to an extent dual pricing at tourist attractions. This has been going on for a while. But, is it really necessary to do this at marathons and triathlons as well? This is what is happening at the upcoming Challenge Laguna Triathlon and The Laguna Phuket Triathlon. The former is 3000 Baht for Thai nationals and 7750 Baht (plus 5% fee) for foreigners. The later race is 2,500 Baht for Thais and 6000 Baht for foreigners. Obviously they are ashamed that they are charging foreigners more money as on their website they hide the real price by using Thai numerals. This is mainly used when business people want to hide dual pricing. Normally, prices in shops use the more common Arabic numbers.

This was brought to my attention by Vincent who had this to say: ''The Bangkok Triathlon have been thoughtful in the fact they give expats the same entry fee as Thai nationals, allowing lower income earners who pay tax in Thailand to participate. For Challenge and Laguna Phuket, I have many expat friends (mainly teaching) who find this fee to be out of their price range.'' What do you think about this? Is it fair to have two prices based on the colour of your skin?


Dear Richard,

As the race director of the Challenge Laguna Phuket Tri-Fest I would like to clarify a few points about our pricing policy. It's actually not that the foreign athletes are paying more, it's that the locals are paying less or a discounted fee. The entry fee is in line with other Challenge races in the world and so is the service and standard of race organization and hence the cost of putting on the event. If we were to charge the full entry fees to locals we would price 90% of them out of the race and we would have a very hard time receiving the local support from the government, police and other agencies to put on the race. If we charged everyone the local rate, there wouldn't be an event because there wouldn't be enough income to cover the costs.

I know a lot of the local guys and many are my friends so I know that they got into the sport because of having an event of the stature of the Laguna Phuket Triathlon now the Challenge Laguna Phuket Tri-Fest on their doorstep. Many of their friends and family volunteer for the event. They work in the hotels or as taxi drivers and they don't ride the fancy bikes that everyone else has. If they had to pay the full entry fee they wouldn't race. How do you think they will feel about the event in their own backyard pricing them out?

You may think you are advocating equality while you are actually advocating elitism, an image that triathlon unfortunately already has to some degree and which would be reinforced if we did what you suggested.

I have had discussions with many athletes over the years about this very issue and the large majority accepted the reasons I gave them which were the same reasons I gave you.

Best regards,

Roman Floesser
Race Director
Challenge Laguna Phuket Tri-Fest

Alan (Morison) How can you ask ''Is it fair to have two prices based on the color of your skin'' when it's nothing of the kind. ''Foreigners'' are of all colors. Perhaps your mindset doesn't acknowledge Koreans, Japanese, Indonesians and others who come from non-Caucasian countries. Perhaps your mindset doesn't acknowledge that Britons, Americans, Australians etc come in all colors and shapes and sizes these days,too. Putting your bigotry to one side, in an ideal world, all individuals would pay the entry fee that they they could afford, based on their income and living standards. In an imperfect world, two prices - one for the relatively poor locals and one for the relatively rich overseas competitors - isn't such a bad idea.

There have been more worthwhile comments and it's a debate that should be continued, for all kinds of good reasons.

Check it out at


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Accepting that there may be an income gap between international and local particapants, that doesn't address the costs incurred by foreignors, for accommodation and travel, which are likely to be substantial. One race, one fee. Make a statement for equalism Phuketwan.

Posted by Phil on June 20, 2013 20:48

Editor Comment:

We have said what we think, Phil. Please read the article again.


After living & working here for 12 years, paying foreigner rate is not acceptable. Must have resident price, like local.
In many events if you are residents, local you have special rate and that all can understand!!! But this way is not acceptable, especially from a place with Laguna name.

Posted by Stef on June 20, 2013 21:15


So all foreigner should boycott the race and I promise you, Laguna will understand the fun game.
do not forget to post nice comments on many forums for more fun.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on June 20, 2013 21:41


Accepting that there may be an income gap between international and local particapants, that doesn't address the costs incurred by foreignors, for accommodation and travel, which are likely to be substantial. One race, one fee. Make a statement for equalism Phuketwan.

Posted by Phil on June 20, 2013 20:48

Editor Comment:

We have said what we think, Phil. Please read the article again.

My apologies Alan, it wasn't quite clear to me those comments, either attributed to you or Roman. Regardless, I think we concur with the premise that any form of discrimatory levy based on nationality is not only flawed but will quickly lead to a lessening of participation to these events.

Posted by Phil on June 20, 2013 21:44

Editor Comment:

My belief is that people should pay what they can afford. A two-tiered system is as close to that as is possible. Clearly, those coming from overseas are relatively rich compared to the Thais who wish to participate. I would be interested to know whether international participants are complaining, or whether this is the usual expat crew who think they are as poor as Thais.


IMO applying different prices based on nationality is the essence of discrimination and would lead to criminal charges in the majority of countries, including many developing nations.

In Thailand the opposite is true. Overcharging foreigners is more like a duty and actively encouraged. Walk around many places in Bangkok and you will see signs written in Thai reading "Thais get 50% discount".

Can you imagine signs like that in any other nation you can think of ?

I understand the counter arguments but find a income based pricing system not only discriminatory but also impossible to implement in practice. I strongly disagree with PW on this one.

I hope every foreigner planning to participate will boycott this race but I doubt they even know they are paying more than twice that of Thai nationals since Laguna is making an effort to hide this fact.

To Mr Roman Floesser

If your reasoning is so widely accepted and your conscience clear, why the need to try to hide the fact behind Thai numerals ?

I challenge you to change your promotional text to plain English to clearly display the two-tier pricing.

Then just wait and see how the participants and above all, the international press responds to your policy.

Posted by ThaiMike on June 20, 2013 22:17

Editor Comment:

Apparently, according to later comments on richard barrow's site, double pricing is common at marathons in most places around the world. Certainly, all pricing discrimination should be declared so people practice it voluntarily or not at all.


- Ed

Agreed. It's a personal choice and some may be strongly against it, including me, others might not mind. However there's no excuse for trying to hide dual pricing.

The fact that Laguna is doing just that reveals the hypocrisy of their statement.

Posted by ThaiMike on June 20, 2013 22:58


Price discrimination is happening all the time and everywhere. Most of the time it is a marketing tool to cream off most of possible revenues simple for profit reasons. Thinking of student discounts (no matter if needed) in cinemas or else. Or family days with special discounts.

Maybe Laguna could let expat teachers or other low earners also get into the cheaper fee. But if they don't and it is too expensive for you, then don't run that thing. You are not entitled to student, kids, handicapped or being Thai discount. But you can just don't do it, if you think not enough value for the coin.

Btw. in Germany you would end in front of a court, if you discriminate prices with no other reasons then sex, race, religion or nationality. Better think of some additional cause or proof different costs, then it is ok. In Germany Laguna would seem as breaking the basic law. The Grundgesetz. Maybe that's why so many are getting so angry.

Posted by Lena on June 21, 2013 00:51


Don't know any low income Thais that participate in this kind of sport, the majority of Thais participating will be people that in income outclasses most of the foreigners participating, so yes Thais should pay the same as all other nationalities. This will probably upset the moderator but is probably more correct than assuming the majority of participating Thais are poor and cannot afford the fee, unless of course an accurate survey was made that shows exactly what income groups are participating .

Posted by Sailor on June 21, 2013 02:26

Editor Comment:

Relatively rich and relatively poor are the terms we use. As we've said, the fairest system will come one of these days, as privacy disappears, when every individual will pay precisely what he or she can afford.

Triathlon is not world's cheapest sport


Sorry, but it's another example of racism. Who says foreigners are richer than locals? I see every day, Mercedes, BMWs Volvos etc., being driven by Thais. I, a foreigner, can't afford such luxury. I'm reasonably well off, but I have to count my pennies. I simply can't afford the foreigner rates for this event and therefore I will not take part, much as I'd like to. Once more, I feel discriminated against. In my country, the UK, it's the same price for every event, tourist attraction, museum, whatever, for a Thai as for me. Why should I be excluded because I am not Thai? I pay my tax, more than any Thai I know, But I am discriminated against.

Posted by A Skeptic on June 21, 2013 03:37

Editor Comment:

It's not racism for the simple reason that ''foreigners'' - a word we dislike intensely because of the false impression it conveys - come in all colors, shapes and sizes. Perhaps you haven't noticed, but Australians, Europeans and Americans are no longer all white. You are entitled to feel discriminated against but It's positive discrimination to encourage people in Thailand to participate in the sport.


Prove you live here with passport(non b, etc)/work permit - get "local rates" - what's wrong with that idea?
Just like back in the UK when doing events, people with their "job seekers/dole" book, got concessions because their income was less.

I think that's the easiest/simplest solution.

Posted by Tbs on June 21, 2013 07:29


I`m with Richard here. One race one registration fee.

Posted by Harald on June 21, 2013 07:31


Any volunteers to man the admission ticket box deciding who can afford to pay more than others,tip of the week dont wear your seiko watch or rolex.

Posted by slickmelb on June 21, 2013 07:50


I would think it you would just reduce the gap between the 2 prices people will be happier. I happen to know many local Thais who take part in the triathlon with families cheering them on. THB 3000 entry fee is already a third of their salary. I can see why foreigners feel the sting so maybe if the organisers could just consider to close the gap a little.

Posted by May on June 21, 2013 10:27


Roman Floesser, has made good arguments for the two tier pricing structure and if the present system encourages local athletes to participate and embrace the sport, i believe it is an acceptable strategy to make the event financially feasible and encourages the local community to participate and being part of it.

Posted by wm on June 21, 2013 13:22


It is clearly absurd to suggest that local Thai athletes would not be able to afford the standard entrance fee. To have the available leisure time in the first place to train for these events and to become proficient enough to compete at this international level requires a level of investment which is simply beyond the reach of your average Thai. These bikes alone can cost US$20K and upwards. I know for a fact that there is one local Thai businessman whose net worth is in excess of perhaps 100 average foreign competitors; who competes regularly.

Posted by HKMike on June 21, 2013 13:40


Malaysia Triathlon have a more levelled registration fee policy. Usually the price between locals and foreigners is just up by 20-30% and the fee is generally less than half of what is practice here.

Posted by Harald on June 21, 2013 18:37


Did Roman Floesser really say taxi drivers couldn't afford to pay the full fee? He must be referring to taxi drivers from the mainland. If he's not, then this is the chance to fleece them for a change.

Posted by chill on June 22, 2013 05:20


would be interesting to know how many poor locals actually take part i would hazard a guess its mainly rich locals who are often seen in lycra cycling on expensive bikes..............

Posted by dave on June 22, 2013 21:47


Maybe Laguna should start giving locals a 60% discount on room rates. I doubt that will ever happen.

Posted by Tim on June 23, 2013 10:53


Shame on Laguna.

Posted by Charles on August 24, 2013 11:41

Editor Comment:

Giving Thais the opportunity to compete in an international event in their own country is hardly shameful, Charles. It would be shameful not to make it affordable. You seem to have missed the debate. Let's not go through it all again, please . . .

Tuesday February 7, 2023
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