Thailand’s tourist dilemma

Part cause by attacks from the convicted fugitive Thaksin Shinawatra, and part caused by recent changes in tourist visa policy, Thailand is losing billions in tourist revenue. Something has to give, and what that is will be tied to someone’s face.

It was not that long ago tourists could come and go from Thailand and stay for as long as they wanted by doing endless border runs for a new visa every 30 days. Because of that many people just decided to stay and deal with the monthly visa runs. Those people eventually became integrated into Thailand’s regular economy as they took apartments and Thais found jobs or opened their own business to support them.

Then after one too many bad news events by people living in Thailand, the Thai government started putting restrictions on tourist visas. The impact was very clear as scores of Thai owned businesses were forced to shut down. From laundry service to restaurants that served food other than Thai food, closed or cut back drastically. There was a sudden glut of rents available in the mid price range between 10,000 and 45000 baht per month as several people left Thailand. Seeing as each non Thai spends on average between 10 and 30 times as much as a Thai, that is a significant hit to the local economy.

On the other side, the attacks from Thaksin and his cronies are adding to that world of hurt. So as the government is on one hand pushing people away, the other hand is trying to bring them in. If you can visualize this, it would certainly make you look twice because it seems not to make any sense at all.

Although the visa policies were meant to keep undesirables out of the country, when you come and think about it, all it does is make it just more of a pain in the ass. If they want to come they still will. So all the policy has done is hurt Thailand by trying to trim the fat by cutting off a big slice of meat. This butcher should be fired.

The fact is there are undesirables in Thailand who hold other types of visas. One such example is talked about in a very popular weekly nightlife column. Apparently there is a bar owner of Middle East origin in Bangkok’s Soi Cowboy who makes a regular habit of beating up on customers for no reason what so ever. The story cites a doctor who was beat up for simply checking to see what time it was on his phone. Seeing is how Thais have huge respect for doctors, it does not do a lot of good for Thai face. This bar owner is being compared to how Taliban act. That most certainly does not do Thailand’s tourism image much good having Taliban running around in tourist areas. The Thai government would do good to rout out people like that.

Trying the blanket approach with tourist visas obviously does not provide the desired effect. Couple that type of violence directed tourists in tourist areas, with the violence Thaksin is causing, and suddenly Thailand starts to look like a place to avoid even for non-Thais living in Thailand.

So as said before, sooner or later something will need to give as the attacks from Thaksin look to continue until Thaksin is taken out of the game.

2 Responses to Thailand’s tourist dilemma

  1. Easing of visa restrictions will allow marginally more tourist revenue to come into the country. So would allowing foreigners to own land. Actually that isn’t such a big deal as most land in Thailand isn’t so attractive. However I suspect the financial elite in Thailand would be strongly threatened by this competition.

    Thailand is in for a rough patch and instead of trying to ride this out the players are creating more disruption and using the weak economy as a reason to make noise. It’s a power play and the low wage class will hurt the most, indirectly. I’d expect the joker to be some big backlash against foreigners although I hope that’s not the case since I live & work here.

    Be careful everyone and good luck!


  2. If this is the bar owner at soi cowboy I think it is, there are very persistent rumors that his bars are nothing more than a front for money laundering. His bars are very attractive but have hardly any customers, yet he says his bars are the most profitable. I make it to soi cowboy about twice a month, and his bars have three times the number of bouncers of other bars. To me that certainly fits the profile of an illegal operation at least by Hollywood standards. Ya this guy has to go for sure, he simply does not fit. It is no secret that non of the other bar owners like him.