Thu, Aug 20, 2015 - Page 3 News List

MOFA defends Bangkok advisory

PRIMARY CONCERNS:The ministry said that its system of travel advisories has no direct relation to any refunds that tourists wanting to cancel their trips might receive

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday defended its decision not to raise its travel advisory for Thailand’s capital, until Tuesday, saying it has been closely monitoring the situation in Bangkok following Monday evening’s explosion near a popular shrine.

“Decisions on travel advisory levels to be issued for a particular area are based on the ministry’s guidelines and a comprehensive assessment of all the relevant factors,” ministry spokesperson Eleanor Wang (王珮玲) said.

Such an alert is merely advisory in nature and there is no direct relationship between an alert and any contracts the public might have signed with travel agencies, Wang said.

Some Taiwanese who have booked trips to Bangkok have complained that the late upgrade of the travel alert has hindered their appeals to travel agencies to have their tickets refunded.

The ministry maintained its yellow travel advisory for Bangkok — which advises travelers to exercise caution and to review the need to travel to the affected area — in the first 24 hours after a blast killed at least 20 people and injured more than 120 others.

The ministry upgraded to an orange alert — the second-highest in its four-color alert system — for the city late on Tuesday evening. An orange advisory warns travelers to exercise caution and to avoid traveling to the affected areas if possible.

Wang said the ministry had many consultations with the Tourism Bureau over the establishment of a set of standardized criteria for the refund of fees for bookings by tourists planning to travel as part of a tour group.

“If such criteria were in place, the public would have a clearer basis for applying for a refund” Wang said.

She added that the personal and property safety of travelers were the ministry’s primary concerns, dismissing accusations of a slow response.

According to Article 28-1 of the Standardized Contract for Overseas Tours (國外旅遊定型化契約書範本), a contract can be canceled in the event that, prior to departure, there is a real and recognized risk to tourists’ life, limb, health or property in one of the scheduled destinations of the tour.

However, the party canceling the contract should pay compensation of no more than 5 percent of the tour price to the other party.

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