You arrive at the national park / bus or train station or other attraction and are greeted by a sign reading:
How does that make you feel?
Do you think it's fair that foreigners are forced to pay more than locals at certain attractions? To your mind should there be exceptions (eg Angkor Wat, Khmers don't pay at all). Or do you think that all people should pay the same -- regardless of their ability to pay?
Is it perhaps a way to redistribute wealth by making those who can better "afford to pay" subsidise those who can't?
What do you think?
#1 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,652
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I don't generally mind paying more than locals under certain conditions:
1. I know the money is going back into the local community or national park (hard to verify)
2. the difference isn't huge.
In New Zealand access to National Parks is free for all people. But 35% of search and rescue callouts are to attend to international visitors, most of whom are inadequately prepared and/or ignored local advice. Perhaps we should charge all international visitors to New Zealand an extra $50 to cover the costs of looking after the ones that drain our resources (search and rescue generally costing thousands of dollars per time but again, people aren't charged for this). How would international visitors to NZ feel about this?
I can goggle in amazement at the wealth I see in some of the so-called (developing) countries. I understand that a lot of people barely earn in a day what many of us spend on coffee and a muffin. But conversely some people have way more wealth than I do. So, distribution of wealth is skewed.
What is the purpose of charging international visitors more than locals (eg to recover more income)? Or of charging locals less than internation visitors (eg so national treasures are accesible by all)? Maybe a multi-tiered pricing scheme should account for one's wealth regardless of one's nationality (so wealthy Thais would pay the same as wealthy Germans for instance). But how would you determine this? It becomes difficult trying to implement a fair system.
Ultimately as prices for international visitors diverge further away than local prices I find myself more reluctant to go to those places. The main thing I am thinking about here is National Parks in Thailand. Now it costs 400B I am likely to go once per trip instead of to two or more national parks. Or I will seek out remote national parks where I might get waved through without paying.
This is just a jumble of thoughts. No clear decision for me.
Well, about 70% of the Thai population earn a living through agriculture, with the average salary being around U$1500/year, or less. Now, they have to pay to put the crop in the ground, have to pay the help, have to buy fuel, buy clothes, and send the kids to school. Same goes with most of the country's taxi drivers, especially in Bangkok. In fact, many make less.
So, I don't mind paying more, even if it means that some Thais who are far wealthier than I am don't pay as much.
I don't mind paying if it looks like the NP are actually using the money to help preserve the site...eg I don't mind paying 400B to stay in the Surins but I sure DO mind paying 200B to stay on Ko Samet.
Some services in poorer countries are subsidised so their citizens can still be able to afford an essential product or service.
Non-citizens are therefore asked to pay more, an amount that reflects the true price.
This happens in many countries including Canada, UK and the USA. So no complaints of 'racism' or 'prejudice' should be made - as was done in another branch of this forum.
#5 CatBa has been a member since 5/3/2007. Posts: 349
I think it depends on what is being paid for and what the difference is.
In Thailand, the National Parks, where a local may pay 20B (or less) and a foreigner 200B (or more), are the classic example.
While there's a couple of exceptions, in return for paying ten times the price a foreigner can expect:
a) a paucity of English speaking guides
b) poor (if any) literature in English (or any other non-Thai language for that matter)
c) poor (if any) sign-posting and trail-markings in English (or any other non-Thai language for that matter)
So I struggle to see the value adding here.
Of course if the difference in admission fees was going towards any of the above then I'd be more inclined to say fair enough -- but it's not happening!
As pythagnz says -- if NP's remained 20B for all, then chances are, foreigners would go to more national parks and everyone benefits -- instead people pick one -- or two and leave it at that.
Regarding Catba's point, is it racist? Well I know if I was to open an amusement park in the US and put a sign out the front reading "Americans $2, Other westerners $10, Asians $20" they'd be a few people about telling me it was most certainly racist. Nevertheless, there's no shortage of admission signs in Thailand that read "Thais 20B, Other Asians 50B, Foreigners 200B" -- in most cases you won't read about such businesses on Travelfish.
#6 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,652
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I can't say how this might be in Vietnam, where I'd happily defer to CatBa as the expert, but in Thailand, the double pricing most definitely IS a function of racism. The higher price is based on race, not anything else. That's racial profiling. That's racism.
Now, to put that in perspective, on our last trip to Samui, my wife was patiently waiting her turn at the post office, when she was escorted to the front of the line (ahead of half a dozen Thais) by one of the postal clerks. You know, that was a race-based thing too, but apart from my wife being a bit embarrased by the special treatment, nobody complained. Sometimes it bites both ways, and there are plenty of times when I've received special consideration only due to being a westerner as well.
I remember we had a similar discussion several months ago, and basically most of the posters agreed that this was just part of the cost of doing business in Thailand. Plus, at least most of those signs that Somtam mentions of the different tiered pricing are written only in Thai, so unless you can read Thai, the multi-tiered pricing isn't being shoved in your face.
I do think that the Thai Government exacting these significantly higher fares from western tourists is a mistake. It isn't just at national parks either. The special tourist train to Kanchanaburi is twice as expensive for western tourists as it is for locals too. Apart from national treasures, like Wat Prakaeo, I think it is hard to justify charging a different, much higher price to people based on their nationality/race. Having said that, when I compare this cost to the price of my airline ticket, I realize it probably isn't worth getting all that worked up about.
I think it's just that we see things from our own cultural perspective.
We Westerners may think racial discrimination is totally abhorrent nowadays but fifty years ago we were doing just that ourselves and nobody batted an eyelid. What short memories we have. And we also have a rather arrogant tendency to assume that other cultures need to adapt to OUR way of thinking. Forcing Thais to accept topless sunbathing on their beaches just because it's OK where we come from springs to mind.
From what I've observed I get the impression that Thais just don't see anything wrong with discriminating according to race, age, sex etc. Look at the job advert section in the Bangkok Post and you'll see what I mean.
I completely agree with SBE that Thais don't necessarily see anything wrong with discrimination according to race, etc. The point I was hoping to make, if I didn't, is that the kind of racism I've experienced in Thailand is a fairly benign form. It is racism, by definition, but it isn't always a bad thing.
I do wonder how much the double pricing issue deters people from going to the national parks or even from visiting Thailand at all. In terms of revenue generation, I suspect the money raised from western tourists visiting national parks is only a drop compared to what is spent on rooms, food, etc. So, if the double pricing policy drives people away from Thailand, then the policy is short-sighted and actually counter-productive. Then again, I'm just guessing, and perhaps it has no such impact at all.
The more I think about the double pricing issue, the more I see it the way SBE described as just part of the broad tapestry that is Thailand. Somtam gave a great example of how an amusement park in the States couldn't possibly charge different prices based on race or nationality. But I contrast that with all the many wonderful bits of Thai culture and the types of adventures available there that aren't on offer for me back home, and it underscores why I've kept going back for the better part of 25 years. Perhaps the double pricing is just one of those bad things we need to put up with to get to the good.
Some aspects of different cultures I embrace, others I merely accept, others I reject. Racism is one of those I choose to reject. In the mid 1970’s I traveled to and lived in the extreme southern potion of the United States. No one can force you to be friends with someone you would rather not, but not serving someone, or charging them higher amounts simply on the basis of race is fundamentally wrong.
I have a choice. I choose not to patronise any business establishment that has a two tiered pricing based on race. If I overhear the price being charged is different from that of a local I don’t buy. I don’t get upset or angry I simply take my business elsewhere. Life is short and I have little time.
I even choose whom I associate with based on racism, in Louisiana as well as Thailand.
That is your prerogative but you nevertheless visit Thailand which has STATE-IMPOSED double pricing based on race. Why are you choosing to spend your tourist $$$ there and aiding that country's economy rather than going somewhere where there is no official two-tier pricing?
It may be fundamentally wrong but discrimination is still deeply embedded everywhere and no one objects until it's PC to do so... name one country that doesn't discriminate between nationalities when it comes to issuing visas and residence permits for example. Nationality is just as much an arbitrary accident of birth as the colour of your skin.
As I said earlier, I don't mind paying more than Thais when I stay in NP like the Surins. There is a genuine effort to preserve the islands and the reefs there. More Thais than foreigners go to the Surins but they rarely stay more than a couple of nights max. They just don't have enough time off work to stay longer. Foreigners like me have the luxury of being able to stay for a week for our 400B fee if we want ...
How many Thais have an annual vacation that is as long as a week?
Minor points perhaps, but:
Visa regulations are often (though not always) reciprocal -- and it's not always even handed even once you take that into account... for example it's easier for an Australian to get a tourist visa to Thailand than for a Thai to get a tourist visa to Oz, but it's actually easier (relatively speaking) for a Thai to get residency in Australia than it is for an Australian to get the same in Thailand ...
All the Thais I worked with in Thailand, in a number of businesses and indutries, got exactly the same leave benefits as I did. Sure I probably got more leave than the tea-lady, but Thais I was working alongside with got the same leave. yes I was paid more -- but hey I needed more to be able to afford my National Park entry fee!
No doubt there's many Thais that get a couple of days off a month -- if that, but there's absolutely no shortage of professional Thais who get the same leave as a westerner working at a similar level -- and they do travel a lot, and they do visit the national parks and they do pay a fraction of what I pay -- and that's the problem.
One park, one fee, one set of facilities -- for everybody.
IMO, that's how it should be, but sadly not how it is.
#12 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,652
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Everyone has their own opinions on this one.
I worked in Thailand too, at Mahidol University and I earned more than twice as much as Thai colleagues with the same qualifications... that is also racial discrimination and I can understand why many Thais get pissed off about it.
Just out of interest how much annual vacation did you get Somtam? I got 10 days paid vacation a year plus public holidays...crap compared to what I got in Europe but WAY more time off than most Thais get.
On my last trip to the Surins I got chatting to a Thai businessman, CEO of a big company who was there for a couple of nights. He wasn't cash strapped by any means...paid the 2000B/night for a proper bed in a NP bungalow ... but he did say that the 3 days he was spending in the Surins was his ONLY vacation this year.
If Thais earned as much and had as much paid time off as Westerners then I doubt if I'd be able to afford to go on holiday to Thailand any more.
I may pay more for NP entry fees etc but I still think I'm getting a good deal.
I've lived in Thailand for 12 years and get extremely annoyed when I see people posting comments stating that the double pricing here is okay because the Thais are so much poorer than us farang. I'm married to a Thai man and whenever we go to a park or waterfall, he gets to pay 40 baht and I get to pay 400!!! Whenever we used to (notice the past tense) go to some park or waterfall, Pai last New Year springs to mind, there are all the Thais with their Nikons and SUVs littering the place with their plastic bags, food wrappers and polystyrene, even though there are garbage disposal bins at the entrances and exits. Their just too damned idle and ignorant to clean up after themselves.
And I might also point out the obvious in that those of us NON Thais who live here permanently, are still overcharged on local markets, even though some of us are not at all well off and basically living on the same income as the locals. Discrimination works both ways, and it's evil.
#14 tamsin has been a member since 17/1/2009. Posts: 1
when you allow any thai person, park,train station, taxi,restaurant, or whatever to over charge you. What your doing is promoting bad behavior. The thai,s figure well if those tourists are stupid enuf to pay 200 baht for a 20 baht taxi then they must all be suckers. I see it daily in such places as Hua Hin, Koh Samui you name it. I speak enuf thai so i end up paying the thai price. Still they will try to over charge me. 99 percent of the places you visit here you can walk to a good cheap hotel, restaurant,train station ,bus station or whatever. But what really burns me are the idiots that think they are helping the poor thai,s. Trust me you don,t know how many times i have over heard the thai,s talking about what stupid, arrogant, a-holes we are. Don,t feel sorry for them. When you travel away from the tourists areas this very rarely happens. This is where you meet the real thai,s. Not the ones you meet in LA LA land like Koh Samui, Pattaya, Chang Mai, Pai you name it. My rule is if they overcharge me just once anywhere i never return. I do not promote bad behavior. And until the tourists start waking up to how much they are getting ripped off the thai,s will continue.
#15 jamesspignesi has been a member since 18/8/2008. Posts: 29
"We Westerners may think racial discrimination is totally abhorrent nowadays but fifty years ago we were doing just that ourselves and nobody batted an eyelid. What short memories we have. And we also have a rather arrogant tendency to assume that other cultures need to adapt to OUR way of thinking. Forcing Thais to accept topless sunbathing on their beaches just because it's OK where we come from springs to mind."
I agree with this, but it doesn't mean I am going to pay for it. So I don't go to National Parks (which don't interest me anyway), and I don't go to places with dual pricing. And when a Tuk Tuk is trying to scam me, we're going to get down to brass tacks quick or I am moving on. I can't make Thais change their behavior, and I am not going to try. But I don't have to give them my money either.
I don't accept double pricing for natural resources.
Time and again, I've gone to the entry point only to see double pricing. I usually say to the service person, Where I come from, everyone pays the same price. Can you tell the manager that we are not coming in to this place because of the high price.
And, we don't enter there. But, I've long ago learnt that very few natural places have only one entry. So, I then go find the back door entry. Often the back door entry is a better experience.
I am hoping my doing the 'cop this young harry' approach at the front entry may just help in the long run.
You are probably right. But...
All too often - and especially when the brown stuff hits the fan - the lowly paid up front workers are asked their point of view.
It's at times like this that I hope my message gets relayed.
We have the same problem here in Muk. There's a national park - it costs 20 baht for a Thai and 400 baht for a non-Thai. That's why I won't go. I have been to the tourist information center with my wife and explained to them that Thailand does itself no favors with dual pricing, ever more complex visa rules, and a legal system that is not equitable. I might as well be explaining this to an ant hill. Falls on completely deaf ears.
I love the Thais, but sometimes they are just on their own planet - planet Thailand.
I try to avoid anywhere with dual pricing if possible but of the times I have paid it the one that really stuck in my throat was a train ride on the Death Railway. Think it was something like 20 baht for my girlfriend and 100 - 150 baht for me, a British citizen whose countrymen suffered so terribly building the thing and was only going on it as a way of paying some respect to their memory. Truly shameful on the Thais part, imagine if the Polish started charging Israelis way more to visit Belsen than Poles or other EU citizens.
#21 keebone has been a member since 25/6/2009. Posts: 10
"Truly shameful on the Thais part, imagine if the Polish started charging Israelis way more to visit Belsen than Poles or other EU citizens."
That is ridiculous. Glad you went to pay your respects though. Man, did those poor bastards suffer. I respect every one of them. On this subject the book "The Colonel of Tamarkan" is a really good book concerning the POWs held by the Japanese and includes some great observations about courageous Thais who did buck their own government in helping the POWs when and where they could.
850 baht for Siam Ocean World and only 350 for Thais. I wouldn't pay that much back in the UK!
Makes you wonder if there will be any tourists in Thailand in 5 year's time, and any expats in 10 year's.
Tourism only accounts for 6-7% GDP, but what about all the money that isn't registered, street stalls, 'massage parlours' and so on?
How many people are leaving here to never come back and how many tourists are not even bothering to come here?
The boom of tourists seems to have started in 1997, after the crash, and Thailand alsoo gave 'visa-free' entry for 30 days and the baht was at one point, 72 to the Pound.
Is it any wonder they don't come or stay with Phuket tuk tuks and scams?
#23 bedu has been a member since 27/1/2007. Posts: 58
Of course, what will eventually drive prices back down is the market. Thailand has to compete with the rest of SEA. But it still has cheap nookie going for it. And that will remain a draw. Only the PI really competes in that department. Other countries have their own issues as well, so if the Thais don't over do it, they'll stay competetive in the region. Now, Africa... that's a place that can compete if they can keep their security situation in check.
I don't know Mac, with all due respect this comparison shopping for sex tourism thing kinda weirds me out. I've been around Asia a fair bit and all but there's women reading this and all, know what I mean?
Interesting the way this thread is going.
Just before I left Bangkok at Xmas I met a lady in the guesthouse I was staying.She says she's from Sudan and has been travelling awhile.She told me she particularly liked Phnom Penh but when I got talking to her about it she mostly new all the 'freelancer' bars very intimately.I found this amusingly odd from a woman who professed to be a Moslem (but still dressed in shorts and a singlet)She said she's going back to PP soon and as I'm due back there in a week from now she gave me her phone number.You got me thinking now. I thought she was just a fiesty traveller but maybe she's a working girl? I wonder if I should give her a ring?
I don't know about Thailand but I've met a fair few young western women in PP shopping for local talent.It's not all one-sided.They tell me the Khmer men are the most attractive in Asia.
I don't know... it's a normal part of life around here and it's everywhere. Frankly I think it's impossible to just ignore it. We don't mention it much in these parts, and not in specifics either. Unlike most posters here, I don't attach a moral position to it. Maybe because I have a sister-in-law who was a working girl for a long time and I don't see her as a former hooker, just as my sister in law and friend. Mostly through her I was exposed to a lot of these girls, and we've discussed this topic some (not all the girls are willing to do that of course - but some are). As the girls rightly pointed out to me when I suggested enforcing laws against prostitution - "We have to eat." Prositution is a way for some of these girls to make real money when no other avenues exist. Now we could have a long, drawn out discussion about socio-political issues and how "we" should get at the root of the problem. But that's well and truly beyond the discussion here. The bottom line here is that it is a deeply ingrained aspect of the culture.
Also, on this subject of women, I notice they get pretty haughty and condescending towards "sex tourists" but completely ignore the asian men who make up the vast majority of the customers for the girls here. It's so hypocritical. Many of them have no problem displaying their attitudes towards older white men with asian women but ignore older asian men with younger asian women. I myself have been accosted by such women in BKK when in the company of my wife. I found it outrageous, my wife found it insulting and told them so. I always did enjoy watching them skulk away after my wife delivered a nice little ass chewing. And it's not like she dresses like a bar girl either.
As with most subject posted on the internet, I think that people who are uncomfortable with a subject (like any women concerning this one) should just ignore it and move on. But for us to completely ignore what is, in effect, such an omnipresent part of the environment here is kind of ridiculous. I notice this the most when discussing costs of traveling in SEA. People will talk about tours, food, lodging, buses, planes... if you are a single male traveling here for a month or two and don't spend any money on women you are either gay, a religious zealot or just strange. I realize the site isn't set up to cater to classic sex tourists, and there are already existing sites for that, so I am not suggesting that travelfish should go that way. I am simply saying that ignoring it totally is a ridiculous extreme given this environment.
Lots of African girls working BKK. Whether you want to indulge or not is up to you. My wife is a good looking women and in the ten years we've been together a good friend too - so it's a temptation that's easy for me to ignore. Besides I need the money for my sons education and my little girls stuff!!! But if she's working for you - well go for it. My last Somali girlfriend was great.
Hmmm - thought this thread was gonna be a discussion about dual pricing in restaurants etc.
Anyway - for what its worth...
Our local museum introduced Dual pricing on the basis that locals contribute to the overheads via rates and taxes (the museum gets some local body funding). This has recently attracted a flurry of letters in the local rag criticising this "racist" move.
I think that it is bad Public Relations. A far better course IMHO is to set aside days in a mth (eg the 1st weekend of each mth) whereby there is free entry. Locals can time their visits - visitors usually can't.
On the other subject : don't the documentaries on AIDS explosions in Africa & Thai bother sex tourists ?
Mugambo .... great term Mac.
#36 nzlup has been a member since 1/2/2010. Posts: 22
One reason for dual pricing that I often hear in my own country is to attract locals to go for repeat visits.
Most attractions (in my country, at least) will not survive soley on tourists who visit once only.
#37 wombatfuz has been a member since 30/12/2009. Posts: 38
We went to a Muay Thai match in Chiang Mai last year with our super-friendly landlady and she coughed up 450 baht for the ticket like the rest of us. That's €9 to me, the cost of a cocktail in a city club, but knowing how much we were paying for each room we knew this was a lot of money for our landlady (who, being very proud, wouldn't let us chip in at all).
Most attractions where I live offer a better price for locals than for visitors and I think that's the way it should be: as a local, I am contributing to this community & deserve to visit its attractions for an affordable price compared to the one-off visitors who come & go. If on top of that you consider that Thailand has a per capita GDP that is a fraction my own country, the argument is even more solid.
I wouldn't consider it racism but rather a 'local' vs 'visitor' distinction in pricing - which I think is fair.
Of course, if it's obvious the money is ill-spent I would probably avoid visiting at all.
"On the other subject : don't the documentaries on AIDS explosions in Africa & Thai bother sex tourists ?"
In my frequent discussions with sex tourists, I have discovered that they are usually extremely well read on this subject and know well how to minimize risk. Now some are just nihilistic and ignore risk altogether, but most are usually very smart about what they can and can not do and keep their health risks small.
"Mugambo .... great term Mac."
I always liked it myself.