A mysterious group of supposed government officials are trying to extort huge kickbacks from Pattaya hoteliers in exchange for placing their resorts on the government’s list of coronavirus quarantine centers.
Pattaya City Councilman Thanet Supornsahatrangsi said May 23 a number of large hotels were approached in recent days but all, suspecting a scam, declined the offer.
Similar to the music-copyright scam of years past, fraudsters claiming to work for a government state enterprise or have “inside connections” said they could arrange for a hotel to be designated a quarantine center for Thais returning from overseas.
In exchange for their services, the grifters wanted a 40 percent cut of the fee the government would pay the hotel.
Both the Prime Minister’s Office and the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration vehemently denied the government was sending representatives to solicit hotel operators to be quarantine centers and vowed to investigate the scam.
The government pays hotels 1,000 baht per person per day to house them for 14 days after returning from abroad. To date, 80,000 Thais have come home and gone into quarantine, many of them at Royal Thai Navy facilities, but many in private hotels. Tens of thousands more Thais are still set to return.
While all Pattaya hotels are closed and, at first glance, can use the revenue, Thanet – who previously headed the Thai Hotels Association Eastern Region – said most operators said it was not worth it.
For that 1,000-baht fee, hotels would have to provide each guest three meals a day. The hotel also would have to employ staff and perform regular, rigorous cleaning. Also, any employees who worked in the quarantine center would lose government unemployment benefits, even if they worked only 14 days.
Thanet said the hotels group submitted a list of 20 large Pattaya hotels that met the qualifications for the program: 200-plus non-carpeted rooms, separate air conditioners for each room and possession of government licenses. None have even been inspected yet, he said.
Ekasit Ngampichet, president of the Pattaya Business & Tourism Association, also confirmed the scam, noting that the supposedly well-connected grifters said a hotel would be placed on the list even if it didn’t meet qualifications.