Zero-baht tour crackdown spooks Pattaya

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The number of Chinese tourists to Pattaya could be on the decline following a government crackdown on so-called “zero-baht” tours and the seizure of more than 13 million baht in assets from mainland-focused travel agency Fuan Travel and its bus-operating partner OA Transport.

While tour operators denied any flights were cancelled due to the ban, Beach Road in Pattaya looked virtually bereft of OA buses on a recent check.
While tour operators denied any flights were cancelled due to the ban, Beach Road in Pattaya looked virtually bereft of OA buses on a recent check.

Peerapat Ingpongpan of the Department of Special Investigation said Tawan Jaemchokechai was arrested for running tours that aimed to take low-paying Chinese tourists to overpriced retail shops to earn commissions. The scams were run in tandem with OA Transport, the DSI said, and OA has agreed to refund up to 30 percent of the revenue from the commissions.

Pol. Maj. Gen. Surachet Hakpal, the commander of the Tourist Police Division, said an agreement was then put in place with the Chinese Tours Association to ban zero-baht tours from Sept. 15 onward.

While tour operators denied any flights were cancelled due to the ban on tours where visitors pay little or no money to arrive in Thailand, a Beach Road tourist stop in Pattaya looked virtually bereft of OA buses on Sept. 13.

Scant number of Chinese were seen, with virtually all visitors being domestic Thai tourists.