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New Laws Chop China Package Tours

New Laws Chop China Package Tours

Monday, September 30, 2013
PHUKET: From tomorrow, Thailand and Phuket could be hit hard by new rules covering tour packages from China, Phuket's largest source of tourists.

Estimates of the impact vary from a lot, to a little. If bookings for China's National Day Golden Week - which runs from October 1-7 - are a guide, Phuket tourism could be set to suffer a downturn.

China's new policy from October 1 will forbid extra charges for tour packages beyond the original price, which means that tourism on Phuket is bound to change.

The despised ''Zero Baht Tours'' - based solely on extra commissions - should be brought to a quick end.

Travel agencies in China will have to lift their prices because from now on, they only get a one-off payment. The move has lowered demand for tour packages quite significantly in China, according to reliable sources.

As a result of the new law, prices of tour packages are rising 20-30 percent on average, and as high as 50 percent at agencies heavily dependent on kickbacks.

''We used to have over three or four thousand tourists sign up for our Thailand package during the National Day Golden Week,'' Wu Bin, Deputy General Manager of New Generation Travel & Trade Co, told ''This year we only have about three or four hundred.''

The hope is that those cuts won't hit Phuket travel in the same way. But Thailand's travel industry is forecast by some to be hit hard.

Travel agencies that focus on Chinese tour groups have held an urgent meeting to discuss counter strategies.

One Phuket-based resort owner who closely watches China, the President of the Thai Hotels Association (Southern Division), Suchart Hirankanokkul, thinks there could be a positive outcome to the change generated by the new law.

Khun Suchart agreed that the number of Chinese tourists using tour agencies could drop, but says numbers will most likely fall only slightly.

Khun Suchart said any government-imposed decline in Chinese tourists would mean a trend towards something that Phuket wants - a rising number of free spending independent travellers.

From China, the messages being picked up on Phuket remain mixed. The pressure for reform and change is likely to be transferred to the holiday island, where many deals are commission-based, and many commissions are covert - and exorbitant.

The Director of the Thai-Chinese Tourism Alliance Association was quoted as saying: ''In the long term this provides an opportunity for Thailand to regulate itself.

''We can use this chance to improve the tourist experience in Thailand. It's a good thing for both tourists and our tourism industry.''

Based on the experience so far with National Day Golden Week, forecasts of a 40 percent drop once the new travel law takes effect may not be ridiculous.

But the short-term pain may be replaced by long-term gain, with independent travellers replacing package visitors and fairer, transparent prices being applied in place of large and sometimes corruptly obtained commissions.

Liu Xin, deputy general manager of the Shanghai China CYTS Outbound Travel Service Co, told that agencies are moving toward more tailored tours, such as packages designed for wealthy young families. Prices of tour packages are going up an average of 20-30 percent, Liu said.

Wang Jue, manager of the Xizang Road outlet of Spring Tour in Shanghai, said about half of people she hears from don't care about rising prices, while the other half are hesitating or cutting travel plans.

Thailand isn't the only destination affected. A seven-minute video of a Hong Kong tour guide berating mainlanders for not spending enough money in shops triggered a huge outcry both in Hong Kong and on the mainland in July 2010.

The guide's licence was revoked and the tour operator fined HK$47,500.

China National Tourism Administration deputy director Du Yili told the South China Morning Post newspaper: ''Both operators and tourists should have a clear understanding of their rights, obligations and responsibilities to cultivate healthy market order.''

Will China's Changes Hinder or Help Phuket? Tell Us Below With a Comment


Comments have been disabled for this article.


The law is excellent, it means less tourists are ripped off by excessive payments of commissions.

This is a first step into attracting the right Chinese market.

As well a clear indication that the Chinese market is becoming more mature and that the Chinese government is protecting their outgoing tourists if necessary.


Posted by wm on September 30, 2013 12:24


MY expression of chinese tourists in phuket:
they come during the whole night in giant buses - stay in "2 star" mansions (if you see a chinese bus unloading at hilton, please send me a pic)

and during day hanging around at home pro or index mall and buying nothing but sweet drinks - hey - at least airport road is nicely full 24/7!

just my view

Posted by toin on September 30, 2013 12:58

Editor Comment:

Too sweeping and generalised. Independent Chinese tourists also abound, but are harder to spot.


Dropping numbers of Chinese in high season is a problem only for East coast/Phuket Town area, because all West coast will be occupied mostly by Russians. As for long-term effect, independent Chinese travellers mostly with very poor English skills will spend their money mostly with Chinese companies, which will open their offices here soon (same as happened with Turkish-Russian companies, that come here to bring tourists and make money from them themselves, trying to avoid Thai partners as much as possible). So who will gain most from this?

Posted by Stranger on September 30, 2013 15:44


20-30%? Try 200%+. According to The Hong Kong Standard, a trip from mainland to HK that was HK$1500 is now HK$5000. Same article says a Trip to Thailand from Beijing or Shanghai that cost HK$2000 is now HK$7000.
China is not singling out this industry or any destination, it is part of the larger overall crackdown on abusive and monopolistic business practices.
This business benefited nobody except greedy, unethical operators.
Mid and high end individual travelers from China are gonna be a big long term driver. They are already coming. They are not the stereotypical bus-riding, country rubes that many of your chauvinistic readers might imagine.

Posted by Yojimbo on September 30, 2013 16:15


Dear Toin

Your assesment is only one of the Chinese markets coming to Phuket.

For your information we at the Holiday Inn Resort Patong, this year will have more customers from China than Germany without a single group booking.

We have many Chinese families or friends traveling together, their actual spend is as good as other nationalities.

The closure of zero Baht tours should exactly prevent the growht of the Chinese market you are refering to.

I am sure that the Hilton in Karon has many Chinese customers, they probably arrive in limousines and small vans, thats why you have never seen a bus full of them ..........


Posted by wm on September 30, 2013 16:24


The problem is, those independent free thinking7spending chinese travellers are still few and far between. That takes language skills, something the chinese are getting fast. But not THAT fast. It will still be many years before those kind of sophisticated travellers will come out of China in any significant number. Could be decades actually. The average chinese traveller can't speak any english at all, can't use the internet effectively, can't swim etc etc. There is a huge gap between the monetary wealth and social/computer/language skills. A byproduct of Chinas mega fast economic development.

Posted by christian on September 30, 2013 18:14

Editor Comment:

To assume that speaking English is a prerequisite for travel flies in the face of the history of tourism. People from many countries, including Thailand, travel widely and manage just fine. Host countries quickly adapt.


Also, how more expensive, zero commission tours would be a boon for Phuket is hard to see. It means people will pay more in China with the money staying there, and automatically they will spend less while on Phuket. So all the shops (rubber matresses, cashew nuts and what have you) geared towards chinese tourists will of course suffer and will lay off a lot of staff.
I don't mind personally, but to think that because the "country folk" of China will not come there will suddenly be sophisticated and independent english speakers coming instead in equal numbers is misguided. If that was the case, those sophisticated people would already be here in huge numbers, nothing have stopped them from coming before.

Posted by christian on September 30, 2013 18:32


Forecasts are very difficult to perform. In special, when they are a outlook into the future.

Posted by dingdong on September 30, 2013 19:44


In china, more people learning English, as people live in England.
Sounds to me, the future of tourism, even in Thailand, will still know one language for everyone.
Maybe once for the local people here, too!

Posted by dingdong on September 30, 2013 19:49

Editor Comment:

You need to do your sums and calculate what proportion of people in China are learning English, dingdong. You should also ask yourself whether the people who are learning English are doing so to travel, or because China is now a business and tourism destination. There has never been any ''one language'' rule. You'd have to be a failure at arithmetic to believe it matters.


I applaud any measures that will reduce the number of tourists coming to Phuket.

I salute the Chinese government for being proactive in protecting their citizens both abroad and at home against overpricing and scams.

I believe the best chance to force Phuket to change for the better comes from the influential Chinese. Quite unlike their approach towards westerners, Thais in general both genuinely respect and even fear the Chinese and pay much closer attention to what their authorities say than all the EU ambassadors together.

Many Thais take pride in their Chinese ancestry and are quick to make it known. Thaksin Shinawatra is perhaps the most prominent example.

I have spotted quite a few individual Chinese travelers and except for their appearance and language spoken could not tell any difference to other individual travelers.

People in groups tend to be less considerate of local do's and dont's but being on their own everyone is more likely to behave in a more adaptive manner.

Very good news indeed.

Posted by ThaiMike on September 30, 2013 20:00


Dear Toin,

For your information Toin, there are several Chinesere at the Hilton it`s coming several buses evert day, but not many people coming from Europe, And Indian people are big to, my wife works at the Hilton Hotel.So a have a good information about that. The Hilton Hotel can take about 1400 People a day, And it`s work about 800 people on the Hotel.

Posted by Born Ronningen on October 1, 2013 06:07

Wednesday October 27, 2021
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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