Owners of hotels in Pattaya have claimed officials have demanded kickbacks if they want their hotels to be chosen as covid-19 quarantine centres. They have urged Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration to look into the issue.
Since the hoteliers accusations officials were quick to deny any involvement by legitimate state authorities.
Government spokeswoman Narumon Pinyosinwat said on Saturday that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha had ordered an investigation into the claim. He vowed to take tough action against wrongdoers taking advantage of people and hotel operators during the covid-19 pandemic.
Dr Panprapa Yongtrakul, assistant spokeswoman for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, also said that the centre had never sent anyone to coordinate and demand “change” for turning a place into a state quarantine facility.
Thai newspaper the Manager Online reported on Friday that a number of people have been approaching hotel operators in Pattaya. Offering to ensure their properties are chosen for state quarantine if they pay them up to 40% kickback.
The government pays participating hotels 1,000 baht per person per day for hosting people serving 14-day quarantine periods. To date, around 80,000 Thais who have returned home from abroad have been placed in Hotel quarantine facilities. Above all as a precaution against the spread of coronavirus disease.
Pattaya Hotels must pass covid-19 quarantine guidelines
State agencies choose hotel quarantine sites based on a set of criteria that also include the hotels licenses. Furthermore Pattaya holes must have non-carpeted rooms, and separate air-conditioners for each room.
There are several hotels that meet the criteria in Pattaya, where about 10,000 rooms have been used for covid-19.
Since all hotels have been temporarily closed by government order, operators are eager to make any kind of deal to make money.
Thanate Supornsahatrangsi, acting president of the Chon Buri chapter of the Tourism Council of Thailand, said a number of hotel owners in Pattaya are reluctant to pursue the deal.
“Although they will be paid 1,000 baht per person per day for 14 days, costs of meals are included. Not to mention staff and utility costs,” he said. “Besides, accepting the deal will disqualify their employees from social security benefits.”
Hotel Employees affected by Covid-19 status
He was referring to compensation their employees would receive from the Social Security Fund. Which would end if they are re-employed, even for only 14 days.
The chapter sent a list of 20 hotels willing to turn their facilities into state covid-19 quarantine centres. However they have not even been inspected by authorities, he said. Instead, Thai returnees were sent to other hotels and he had no idea whether they met the criteria.
“Importantly, a group of people claiming to come from unidentified state agencies have approached us, saying they could make our hotels state quarantine places and we would get 1,000 baht per person per day. The catch? We’ll have to pay them an ‘operation fee’ of 40%,” he said.
Mr Thanate claimed all hotels run by his family had turned down the offer since he thought that with the kickback, it was not worthwhile.
Ekkasit Ngampichet, chairman of the Pattaya Business and Tourism Association (PBTA), confirmed the kickback demand at rates between 30% and 40%.
“Even if a hotel does not meet the criteria, these people promised they could coordinate to make it happen. So it’s possible this is teamwork,” he said.
Tourism Association adviser Sanphet Supaborwornsathien confirmed several tourism operators of large and mid-sized hotels had been approached. Many had turned down the offer since they viewed it was not worth it to reopen their hotels.
Source: Bangkok Post