More recent posts from myself have been exploring the changing tourist landscape in Thailand which has seen a sizeable shift towards the Chinese tourist. In actual fact, it appears to bode very nicely for Thailand who can expect their tourist industry to explode over the coming few years.
Sadly I was not altogether surprised that a sizeable chunk of online Expat comments towards my post and in particular the Chinese tourist in Thailand were unfavourable. I say not altogether surprised because if you rewind back a decade this same group were moaning about the Russian tourists who suddenly appeared in big numbers in areas like Pattaya and Phuket.
Is it just the inevitable disruption to life as they knew it or are other more sinister factors at play as to why some expats dislike certain tourists groups?
So I have a genuine question from all of this, and that is why such a dislike? I think the starting hypothesis to base this article on is ‘any group/country that arrives in big numbers’ is more where the dislike initially comes. The types that do not go under the radar when they arrive in any given country and as a result make a lot of visible ‘noise’.
Hotel industry already aware of nationality issues
Handling the coming together of different nationalities is a real problem faced in the tourist industry. Mainstream hotels never let a hotel be over subscribed by one particular nationality and even then they try to place tourists in particular ‘zones’ within their hotel by virtue of what country they come from. So for example you may find Indians on the first and the Brits on the second floor and so on.
I know many in the travel industry and once tested with one of them booking a room at a large well-known hotel in Samui. Firstly under my Russian wifes‘ name and then as myself (British) just to see how the price differed. Price adjustments are made all the time not just by occupancy rates but by the occupancy rates of any given nationality. So if there are already lots of Australians, for example, booked into one hotel then the room rate will go up for that nation to slow the demand.
Now here was the surprise from our test. My wife was given a price and room yet I was told the hotel was full. My travel insider explained this was quite normal in order to keep the nationality ratio balanced. The last thing a hotel wants is to be tarnished as a hotel ‘full of Brits’ etc.
Is it a misplaced dislike for major tourist groups?
Locals not liking mass tourism is a global issue
For some time Westerners had been Thailands core tourist target and as such, they felt the love. Then the Russians arrived and for certain regions, the local expats probably felt a little shunned. The honeymoon was over and Pattaya/Phuket had a new darling – the Russian tourist.
Because at the time the Russians tourist overpowered everyone else and it was a little intimidating. Expats moaned about bad manners and pushing to the front of queues as reasons for their dislike, but I am not so sure this was the real issue. I think partly it was just the sheer weight of Russians seen everywhere – Where once was the promised land only for the Westerner now they had been squeezed and to some extent pushed aside by a larger group.
It could be argued it is irrespective what nationality they were – it was just the sheer numbers that was the problem. Now we are seeing this all over again with the Chinese arriving in Thailand and once again it has put some Expats noses out of joint.
We also need to remember lots of people, especially older, don’t handle change very well.
On face value an expat is actually a local, and so although technically still an alien to the country, they will feel their home is being invaded by the sudden influx of tourists that make their life less comfortable. But they must realise they chose to live in big tourist locations and it is one of the objectives of such a region – to pull in more tourist visitors! It is like sitting in a football stadium and then moaning when a game of football kicks off around you.
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