TAT to pay for tour scam victims

The Tourism Authority of Thailand will pay for the losses to people who have claimed to have paid over 1.5 million baht for a tour package sold at a TAT Fair that never existed.

Minister for Tourism and Sports, Chumpol Silpa-archa said yesterday that the alleged swindle took place at a fair organised by the TAT in spite of the fact that the organisers strictly screened the participating operators.

He pointed out that the company had a good track record and this was the first time it had been accused of any problems.

Southern Plus Travel Co of Surat Thani’s Koh Samui district was accused by Thitaree Pinthachaiwat and 25 others who lodged complaints at Lumpini police station on Sunday who bought the non-existent travel package at the Amazing Thailand Grand Sale
Fair last year, organised by the TAT and its partners, at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre in 2009.

The Bangkok Post reported Mr Chumpol as saying that he has instructed the TAT to take responsibility for helping the victims, while the TAT has lodged a complaint with police against the company for fraud.

Somprasong Yentuam, police chief at Lumpini said a warrant would be issued for the arrest of Suratwadee Yongrat, the owner of Southern Plus Travel Co, who will face a maximum prison sentence of up to three years.

He said the arrest warrant would be issued in a few days after about 20 witnesses were questioned.  One of the victims in the scam, Ms Thitaree, an employee at a private company in Bangkok’s Bung Kum district said she had bought a tour package from Southern Plus Travel for 20,978 baht, which included accommodation at two luxury hotels in Krabi over the New Year celebrations from December 31 to January 5 and did not include air tickets.

Meanwhile, the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission has said that the body was ready to look into the case, and whether any TAT officials had been involved.

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