THAIS TELL RUSSIANS THEY ARE NOT WELCOME IN THAILAND – According to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) things have never been better in terms of the number of tourists flocking to the country.
When it comes to the Thai Government and their announcements, of almost anything, you can take it all for what it generally is… lies, lies and then lies stacked on top of more lies.
In a country that is bathed in xenophobia and corruption the real truth lies on the ground; beaten and kicked to death. Truth, unfortunately, is something that no Thai wants to hear.
Tourism has been declining steadily over the last 6 years and it is at the point where very few Westerners bother to visit. From arriving at the airport to the time of departure it is simply one long list of scams and cons in order to extract as much cash as possible from the tourist; and tourists are understandably sick of it and now seek fairer destinations, such a Bali.
Tourism now consists mainly of Koreans, Chinese and Japanese; most of which arrive on package tours in order to avoid all the local scams. Every event or sightseeing trip is pre-arranged therefore little money is filtering down to the locals.
Now come the Russians who not only want to visit but stay. Thailand is, or at least most parts of it, a tropical destination; which is far more attractive than living in the cold for most of the year.
The Russians, according to the Thais, are rude and confrontational; however I have personally never witnessed any such behaviour.
In order for Russians to stay permanently in Thailand most take up the option to open up a business and in key areas such as Phuket and Pattaya these are often tourist related businesses.
Over the last 6 months conflicts have risen with the local Thai Tuk Tuk and illegal Taxi drivers who have been calling on authorities to close the Russian operators down as they are stealing their business.
It was last month that a band of Tuk Tuk drivers took to blockading the roads outside a police station and demanded the police take action or face prolonged blockades and violence. As with most ‘mob rule’ demonstrations in Thailand the police quickly gave in and began the witch hunt for Russian Tour Operators.
The Russians maintain what they were doing is perfectly legal; it’s just that the Tuk Tuk and illegal taxis drivers know that Russian tourists are no longer available to be scammed by them and so have taken to vilifying them and calling for the closure of their businesses and their deportation.
Thais, through what can only be described as one of the worst education systems in the world, simply cannot grasp the concept of fair competition and certainly will never understand how such competition is actually good for business and tourism as a whole. For a Thai life is about what happens now and more importantly what happens to ‘me’ now.
In a country that supports all levels of corruption and crime it is little wonder that the Thai Governments tourism slogan ‘The Land of Smiles’ has been adapted by tourists as ‘The Land of Scams’.
It is widely accepted that the Tuk Tuk and Taxi Associations are protected by a few very rich and powerful Thais; which is why when they do protest the police spring to action in their favour.
This was firmly depicted recently when the Authorities decided to introduce a Public Bus Service. The Tuk Tuk and Taxi drivers have refused to allow anything that would see their earnings drop and vowed to spill blood on the streets if any public buses appear on the roads.
Their modus operandi was as usual; blockade the streets to cause as much disruption as possible. The result was also a foregone conclusion with the police and local authorities bowing to their demands. The next morning the police, immigration officials and labour officials took to the streets to investigate Russian based businesses and in the process closing a number of them down.
Phuket Island, in just the last 30 years has been transformed from a lush tropical paradise to an unorganised mess of decaying roads, suffocating traffic issues, filthy beaches where raw sewage is openly pumped into the sea from restaurants and hotels and where violent crime has risen to an alarming state that tourists no longer feel safe to visit.
One of the on-going issues has been the illegal land grabs that have turned beautiful lush tropical jungle into concrete hotels and homes. This is nothing new and has been going on for years and is supported by high-up officials who are able to fraudulently doctor land title deems in order for corrupt payments.
During the last wave of Central Government intervention little or nothing appears to be done about the corruptible practice that is destroying the very fabric of the island. Foreign homeowner, while they are not allowed to own land, are worried that the title deeds they do own may not be legitimate and with property prices ranging from $150,000 up to $20 million it is understandable that many foreigners are extremely worried about their so-called investments.
From speaking to a few realtors it is clear that the lack of tourism, the degrading of the island, the rising violent crime and increasing corruption it is little wonder why sales have fallen to almost nothing. One realtor I spoke to, who has asked to remain anonymous said;
“Ten years ago I was selling around 20 properties a year, and I’m only one of the small fry realtors and life was great. Over the last five years crime has become a real concern and as the Thais continue their nationalistic xenophobic ways this has seen the bottom fall out of the market.
Last year I sold just one property but that was to a Thai. I haven’t sold a single property to a foreigner in over 18 months; they simply do not want any part of Thailand or the Thais. In all honesty I’m closing my business this year and heading elsewhere. Considering the xenophobic Thai Property Laws that prevents foreign ownership of land and the fact that property is vastly over valued I wouldn’t buy anything here.”
Nearly 10 years ago Bali, Indonesia suffered from one of its worst terrorist acts in history which saw a number of foreign tourists killed. The result was that tourists abandoned the country and headed for places like Phuket, Thailand.
The tables again are turning and turning quickly as tourists are now avoiding Thailand and heading back to Indonesia where it is cheaper, safer and far less xenophobic.
While the Thai Government continues with its campaign of ‘whitewash’ and ‘lies’ to cover up the truth is obvious for anyone with their eyes open. The Thais want one thing and one thing only… money and how they get it is irrelevant providing they get it and get it now.
There have been many suggestions by Foreign Ambassadors and Honory Consols in order to help Thailand recover but these suggestions are summarily ignored as the Thais continue to believe the nationalistic rhetoric the Government churns out and that Thailand has no interest in changing in order to move with the times.
Many expats hope that the Thais will change their attitudes towards foreigners but for years the authorities have been singing the same tune of change, unfortunately talking about it appears easy but changing it, especially when it would affect how much money they can make in corrupt payments, it something completely different.
While the Thai Authorities on Phuket vowed to take care of the number of scams from the Jet Ski operators, this like anything else has not been addressed, and only this week two Australian tourists were scammed into paying nearly A$3,000 for damage to a Jet Ski they did not caused. After repeated threats and intimidation the couple decided to pay up and four Jet Ski Thugs escorted them to the bank in order to get their money.
While many may be thinking these people should have gone to the police, as this would be normal practice in the West, many tourists are unaware that the Police are heavily involved and if they become involved their job is one of mere mediation so that they get a 20% cut from the scammed proceeds.