Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha has ordered a crackdown on zero-dollar tour operators and told officials concerned to strictly enforce the law without fear of dark influence to get to the bottom of the network of these illegal operations, government spokesman Maj-Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd disclosed on Friday.

The prime minister, said the spokesman, feels strongly that the zero-dollar tour operations have rendered huge losses to the country and have tainted the image of Thai tourism industry.

He further said that the prime minister wished the Thai media to expose these illegal activities so that they would not recur.

Regarding the concern that the crackdown on the illegal tour operations will discourage Chinese tourists from visiting Thailand, Maj-Gen Sansern said that it was too soon to jump into a quick conclusion that the crackdown would backfire on tourism business.

He suggested the society to distinguish between the legal tour operations and the illegal operations, noting that Thailand has never gained anything from zero-dollar tour operations for the past several years as all the revenues from the operations were sent back to China through brokers and, worse yet, their nominee companies have never paid any income taxes.

The government is doing the right thing to build up confidence among the honest tour operators, said the spokesman, adding that the Tourism and Sports Ministry will invite representatives of Chinese embassy and the Chinese Tourism Promotion Organization for a briefing of the Thai government's policy toward zero-dollar tour operations.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)

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