Thai Tour Operators Tired of Denmark

“Denmark is the most annoying country to work with although we send thousands of tourists to Scandinavia,” says the largest tour operator specialized in arranging tours for Thai tourists to go to Scandinavia.
 “Even a tour guide who is going on a tour with a group of Thai tourists four times a year will have to apply for a new visa for every trip valid for the exact number of days the trip lasts. It feels very annoying for someone who is actually helping to sell the country that he or she cannot get a better treatment,” says Mr Sahanop Detya, General Manager of RTS in Thailand.

Only about five operators
RTS is one of only about five tour operators in Thailand developing tours to Scandinavia. The tour operators sell their tour packages to the hundreds of travel agents in Thailand, who sell the tours to the end-user, the tourist going on the tour to Scandinavia.
 “The application for the visa is mostly taken care of by the travel agent, but of course we are involved as they travel on our tours,” Sahanop Detya explains.
 To apply for the visa, the traveler brings to the agent a copy of their passport, 2 photos, a copy of their Thai ID card, a copy of their house registration book, a letter from their employer or – if self employed – a copy of the company registration,  a certificate stating their marital status, a copy of their bank book or a bank statement and a confirmation of their hotel reservation.
 “Some countries allow the Travel Agent to make a group visa. In that case, the agent submits in one stack all these papers for each of the tourist along with their passport and when done they pick up all the passports with the visa inside in one operation,” Sahanop Detya explains
 This is something, that Denmark for some reason does not offer.
 “Finland, Sweden and Norway all allow for group visa applications – I don’t know why Denmark cannot do this,” Sahanop Detya asks.

“Must show your face”
 Denmark is also different on another point.
 “Even the traveler is going on a group tour, Denmark insists that each traveler must come for an interview. But quite often the person is not interviewed, their face is just compared with their photo and then they can go home again. Confused and angry they call their agent and complain why they have to travel all the way to Bangkok from Chiangmai or Huahin or Suratthani to show their face for five second – not including the waiting time – as if all the papers submitted were not enough to confirm their identity?!”
 So far, the problem has been solved by letting most of the trips go to Norway and so the travel agents could avoid applying for visa to Denmark. But last week the Travel Agents were told that now the Norwegian Embassy would as of the 14th of July start requesting the same show of face before the visa could be issued.
 “We don’t get this information directly from the Embassies. I just heard it from the travel agents who learned it through their contacts with the Embassy. It would be better if we could get information like this officially and directly from the Embassies since it affects our business and the income of the Nordic countries too,” Sahanop comments.
 Sahanop Detya is pleased that the Finnish Embassy is more business oriented so the problem might simply be solved by shifting the tourism stream to go the majority of the days to Helsinki. The Finnish Embassy also offers to provide the tour guides with one year visas with multiple entries.

Three wishes
Summing up his wishing list for Denmark, the three things that would be most helpful for him when selling Denmark as a tourist destination would be the adoption of group visas as a Nordic standard, abolishing the personal show of face for each single traveler and providing the tour professionals with one year multiple entry visas.
 Avoiding Denmark completely is not an option, because certain tours that sell well needs a visa from the Danish Embassy.
 “Last year, we sold 1000 tours to Iceland and although we had to deal with the Danish Embassy this was good business,” Sahanop admits.
 The purpose of the Schengen visa is to avoid having people overstaying in Europe and taking up work or engage in other activities not permitted for in their visa. So, through his more than ten years in the Scandinavian tourism business, how many of the many thousand of Thais that he has over the years sent to Scandinavia did actually “skip the tour” and overstay?
 “Never a single person.”

About Gregers Møller

Editor-in-Chief • ScandAsia Publishing Co., Ltd. • Bangkok, Thailand

View all posts by Gregers Møller

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