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Tuesday 11 January 2022

Thai hoteliers resort to legal threats

There is nowhere I would rather be right now than on a beach on Phuket or in Krabi, enjoying some fresh seafood and a cold beer.

I love Thailand. Warm, friendly people, great beaches, beautiful countryside and superb food.

There is, however, a disturbing element to both the Thai hospitality industry - and Thailand in general.

That is that no one is ever at fault - and that no one has the right to criticise.

You may remember a while back that an American blogger was jailed and forced to apologise for online criticism of a Thai hotel. 
Now it is happening again.

An oversensitive Thai hotel owner is threatening to sue a guest over what has been described as "a slightly negative review".

The guest posted a lukewarm 6/10 review on travel site Agoda, although her only serious criticism was that it was overpriced.

Attorney Sittra Biabungkerd has said that his client, a woman identified only as Khing, learned she was being sued in a letter sent by the resort, which he did not name, after she left negative feedback on Agoda.

“Khing was told by the resort to delete the review comment immediately, or else she must pay the resort THB50,000 per day in compensation and THB3 million (that is $125,000 AUS) for the damages,” Stitra wrote.

“Plus, the resort asked her to publish an apology in newspapers for seven days in a row.”

It has since been reported that the hotel involved is the Ozone Hotel in Khao Yai.

The review said the resort was “too expensive” and that “the room did not look new as advertised. I could not call the reception from my room, so I had to walk down by myself. Not clean. Night-shift staffers were not so helpful, but some were welcoming.”

The review subsequently vanished from Agoda, but Sitra said his client did not delete it.

So hotels can demand damages for mild criticism? And does Agoda only publish positive reviews and take down negative ones if a property protests?

Serious questions.

It turns out that defamation is a criminal act in Thailand, and the truth or fair criticism are not absolute defences.

So visitors should be very, very careful. And that the Tourism Authority of Thailand should probably warn hotels that renegade reactions to reviews can be very damaging to the country's global reputation.

1 comment:

  1. The earlier incident resulted in Trip Advisor heading the particular resort's page with a statement that a reviewer had been jailed. As for defamation, no Thai publisher would name any premises involved in anything negative - not only hotels - as they can sue for having their business reputation damaged. The fact it is deserved is absolutely no defense in law - business damaged, fact, case closed. Who'd be a restaurant critic, hmm Winsor?