Tourist compensation fund facing bankruptcy


Administrator proposes reorganization into fund-raising association following April speedboat accident

Still reeling from an April speedboat accident that injured 18 foreign tourists and 2 guides, area politicians say a fund set up to compensate injured tourists must be overhauled before it goes broke.

At a May 22 administration board meeting, Banglamung District Chief Sakchai Taengho said the bylaws governing the Pattaya Tourist Support Fund should be amended and the program transformed into an association that can solicit donations to stay afloat.

Sakchai said the fund paid three victims of the April 21 collision of two tourist boats off Koh Larn 20,000 baht each, leaving only 500,000 baht in the fund’s coffers. That won’t be enough to keep the program once administrators fix bylaw shortcomings that became obvious after the accident, said the district chief, who also serves as the fund’s president.

Banglamung District Chief Sakchai Taengho said Pattaya’s tourist compensation fund needs help.Banglamung District Chief Sakchai Taengho said Pattaya’s tourist compensation fund needs help.

The main problem with the fund’s governing rules, Sakchai said, is that they only allow victims of serious crime to receive compensation.

In addition to amending eligibility rules to allow payment to “victims of serious accidents that would affect the image of Pattaya,” the board should also increase the maximum payouts to victims, he said.

Currently, tourists with non-disabling injuries can receive a maximum 20,000 baht each. Those disabled by injuries can get up to 50,000 baht and the fund will pay families of tourists killed in Pattaya 100,000 baht.

In the case of the South Korean tourists, fund administrators made an exception to allow payment to the three South Korean accident victims, one of which lost a leg. The national government picked up the cost of hospitalization and emergency transport home.

“Even though the government covered those expenses, what must also be taken into account is the alleviation of the perceptual impact of the accident,” Sakchai said. “It has dramatically affected tourism in Pattaya. Increasing the amount given to injured tourists would have a good impact on Pattaya’s tourism in the future.”

While bylaw amendments can be made quickly, the long-term goal, Sakchai said, should be to reorganize the government fund into a private association. That way, he said, administrators can solicit donations from private companies to cover more victims and pay those victims more.

Board member Bundarik Kusolvitya, director of the Thai Hotels Association – Eastern Chapter, agreed with the idea of reorganization, but cautioned that “serious research into the process of requesting funds from public agencies or the private sector must be conducted in advance.”

She said if the officials move deliberately and account for any obstacles, the hotel association would be amendable to donating.