Tourism act prompts questions

BANGKOK, 26 August 2014: Department of Tourism, under the supervision of Ministry of Tourism and Sports, held a seminar to hear opinions on the draft of the Act of Tourism Standard last Friday.
Presiding at the “Study and Development of Tourism Standard Act” seminar, deputy permanent secretary, Kajorn Weerajai, said Thailand needed a tourism standard, or benchmark, to create a brand as the country prepares for the ASEAN Economic Community.

“Thailand should build a tourism brand in order to tighten the sector’s competitiveness and standardise products and services to welcome tourists.”
He added: “A standard are very crucial for the tourism industry. It is a tool to help us compete … tourism products and services need systematic management to push operators to gain certification.”
Mr Kajorn talked about an additional tourism standard that aims to develop product and service quality to increase tourist confidence.
Department of Tourism general director, Supit Weerajai, said the act focuses on strengthening operators such as shops and guest house accommodation.
It does not include tour guides and tour operators who are already controlled by Act of Tourism and Guide Registration 2008 as well as hoteliers who are controlled by Hotel Act 2004 and Building Control Act 1979.
“We spent two years to draft this act and already discussed it eight times…we hope to collect suggestions to adjust the act so it delivers an advantage to tourism. We also wish to complete the process with related sectors and send it to the Cabinet for approval.”
The director said the act will adopt some of the points in 50 standards that have already been launched by the department. The main points will be included in the new act that will take legal effect once approved.
Up to 2013, there were 3,053 operators who gained the standard certification.
The 50 tourism standards are in six categories: services; accommodation; activities; tour guides and tour operators; tourist attractions and others.
Services for tourism standards include: food; public toilets; tour boats; boat restaurants; halal food; souvenir shops; jewelry shops; tourist information centres; rafts; disability support, seniors and children; air-conditioned vans; safety in department stores; and health and wellness venues.
Attraction standards focus on: ecotourism; natural tourism; health tourism; historical venues; cultural sites; art and science sites; entertainment; waterfalls; beaches; islands; caves; agro-tourism; and geotourism.
About 400 tour operators, hoteliers, associations and related sectors joined the seminar to present their opinions on the Draft of Tourism Standard Act.inside-no-1.21
Association of Thai Travel Agents vice president, Anek Srishevachart, said the draft lacked clear definition of what was a “Tourism operator”.
“The act has to define what is a “Tourism Operator” as it does not include tour operators and tour guides .”
ATTA public relations, Thongyu Supawittayaporn, was concerned about transparency of the certification board that checks and certifies operators.
“How can we guarantee that the authority will have transparency, no corruption, and will not offer advantages for certain people?”
He also said the act would benefit big scale operators, while it seems to be difficult for small enterprise to gain certification.
“Does the department have an incentive to help encourage SMEs to gain certification?” he questioned.
Phuket Jet Tour owner, Charn Wongsatayanont, said the act does not clearly inform which market it covers–inbound, outbound or domestic.
“Also, the draft act is not clear in terms of foreign customer representatives, who will be responsible for them on an emergency case?”
In addition, the act does not cover the state sector that provides tourism services such as national parks, museums and historical attractions.
According to the draft, the tourism standard committee will include 18 people led by the Tourism and Sports Minister as the chair.
It will include tourism permanent secretary as deputy chairperson; six permanent secretaries from the ministry of agriculture and cooperatives, finance, science and technology, public health, industry, and Office of the Consumer Protection Board; three presidents from Professional Tourist Guide Association of Thailand, Association of Thai Travel Agents, and Tourism Council of Thailand, and five tourism professionals.
Mr Charn advised that the committee should include representative from the Ministry of Culture and each province should have its own tourism committee.
Thai Travel Agents Association president, Suparerk Soorangura, suggested the committee should have five representatives from the private sector — two from the Tourism Council of Thailand and one each from the Association of Thai Travel Agents, Thai Hotels Association, and Association of Domestic Travel.
“We welcome the new act, however, the department should clarify all the points for each sector… and in the meantime, the department should enforce the existing act, laws and regulations before launching a new one.”
As the act will directly control operators who provide services, activities, shops and accommodation, the department should invite them to join seminar in order to create awareness, he suggested.
The Act consists of nine sections with 68 articles (only Thai version) visit!357&cid=af5f4f9af28962d3&app=PowerPoint&authkey=!AiZDYtPD9BwEK40. For PDF download .
Ministry of Tourism and Sports’ Department of Tourism assigned Kasetsart University as a consultant to conduct a study and develop legal standards for the tourism sector in preparing for the start of the ASEAN Economic Community 2015.
The university based its conclusions and recommendations on tourism standard laws and rules in Thailand, ASEAN and ASEAN+6 (China, South Korea, Japan, India, Australia and New Zealand).