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KANCHANABURI RAIL TRIP: Travel agents slam SRT for high fares
Suchat Sritama, The Nation (2 Aug 2004)

THAILAND: Bt17 tickets are now Bt100 for locals and Bt300 for foreigners

The Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA) has voiced its concern over the extraordinarily high prices of the State Railway of Thailand’s (SRT’s) new service in Kanchanaburi.

The association, which deals mainly with foreign tourists, fears the tourists may be upset by the move, with many fewer visiting the province in the long term.

"This is a destination that many foreign visitors wish to see. The SRT action will hurt them, so we’ve sent a letter to the authority explaining why this should be reconsidered, in order to avoid negative long-term effects," said ATTA board member Chidchai Sakornbodee.

The complaint followed the SRT’s agreement to award Rail-

way Travel Co rights to operate a tour package from Kanchanaburi town to the end of the Death Railway. The new service started yesterday. Railway Travel is owned by local tour-operator Kumthon Lurwongnam.

For 40 years the SRT has charged a flat one-way rate of Bt17 per person for the ride from the town to Nam Tok, where tourists can visit the Sai Yok Noi waterfall.

While this price remains, Thai tourists who use Railway Travel’s service will be charged Bt100 each and foreign tourists Bt300 each. The price includes a soft drink and snack, plus a certificate to show that tourists have been on the River Kwai Bridge and the Death Railway.

An SRT statement said those paying the Bt17 fare were not guaranteed a seat, but those buying the package were.

"Foreign tourists would never know it [that the Bt17 price remains]. They would have to pay for the package then find out how expensive that is," said Chidchai.

Chidchai noted that the SRT received Bt100 out of every Bt300.

He wondered why the state railway would allow a private tour operator to charge high prices on its property.

"Kanchanaburi’s tourism will be affected. Local and foreign tourists alike will surely be disappointed," he said.

A Bangkok-based tour operator agreed.

"The package is really very good, but the price is too high," the tour-operator said.

Meanwhile one tour guide cautioned that visitors could be confused about the new fares, given that the SRT has maintained the Bt17 fare for some 40 years.

"Many locals have also questioned why the SRT, if it wants such a service, doesn’t do it on its own. Why bring in a private company?" the guide wondered.

Source: The Nation

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