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Thailand Launches Tourist Court to Help Stop Scams, Improve Tourist Safety

September 9, 2013 at 8:45 AM | by | ()

Regardless of how this all plays out and whether or not you believe it's the best way to go about it, you’ve got to hand it to them: Despite the fact that most tourists have no problems in Thailand, that certainly isn’t stopping the country from taking complaints seriously.

Last week, in what could be a benchmark move for the travel industry, a pilot “tourist court” was launched in Pattaya to help mediate “small claims” from tourists. While there have been a few mainstream cases to come out of Thailand over the past few years, this court will be responsible for handling more mundane disputes, including rip-offs and robberies. “Serious” offenses, like getting your tail whipped by a gang or something, will still be handled by the regular judicial system.

This move comes in response to the ever-growing amount of problems with tourists being scammed by tourism operators, including jet ski and car rental companies, taxi drivers and tuk-tuks.

We must say we appreciate the effort, but it doesn’t mean much until we see how successful the court process will be at handling disputes. We’re sure the mere presence of it will make vacationers feel warm and fuzzy about visiting Thailand and, unless it is able to recoup losses, it will be nothing more than a false sense of comfort.

Critics have wondered whether it would be better to put the resources into preventing the crimes instead of solving them. An example would be passing tighter regulations on companies within the tourism industry, as France currently does. The thought is that even if the issue is resolved by the court, tourists who are robbed and conned are still going to leave with a bad taste in their mouths regarding Thailand and its people, which impacts tourism negatively in the long run.

Personally, we’re pretty curious to know how the retribution will take place in a day. If you realize a jet ski operator has ripped you off, do you have to get him to come to court? We’re assuming that’s not going to happen. So how does it work? Suppose an incident occurs on the last day before you leave Thailand and the person who ripped you off doesn’t come to court. You log your complaint, and the government may or may not mail you a check once they sort through the details? And how will they navigate through the inevitable bogus claims, such as from tourists trying to take advantage of the system?

This seems like one hell of an endeavor for Thailand, especially considering it involves its own citizens against tourists. We’ll be sure to keep you up to date on how this one plays out. If this trial court in Pattaya proves to be effective, six more will be set up in cities across the country, including Bangkok and Phuket, so there is a lot at stake.

About 26 million tourists will visit Thailand this year, so it shouldn’t be long before we have our first few case studies.

[Photos: easytobook.com/asiancorrespondent.com]

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