More Restrictions on Foreigners in Tourism Businesses Urged

“The Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA) plans to draft tougher requirements for foreign tourism operators wishing to do business in Thailand”, reports the Bangkok Post.  There are already at least two laws in Thailand that restrict foreign ownership of and participation in businesses providing tourism services: (1) the relatively well known Foreign Business Act; and (2) the lesser known, but more restrictive, Tourism and Guide Business Act.  In addition, any foreigner working in Thailand must have a work permit, the term “work” is defined broadly and Thai work permit laws prohibit foreigners from working as a “tour guide”, a term that is interpreted very broadly.

This same Bangkok Post article says the ATTA is concerned about “foreign operators entering the Thai market once the Asean Economic Community (AEC) is formed in 2015”.  The ATTA is concerned about an “influx of small foreign players because the language skills of Thai tour guides are inferior to those of other Asean guides,” but says the “main threat is domination by major foreign companies offering one-stop services.”