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Operating a Tour or Travel Business in Thailand

Amazing Thailand — the land of smiles, culture and history, temples and beaches, nightlife and street food, and all things affordable. The country always makes it to the list as one of the world’s most visited destinations every year. Tourism being one of the main sources of income for Thailand, businesses in this industry need to operate under the administration of and in compliance with regulations set by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). These businesses include:

  1. Travel Agency: This kind of business structure involves selling and recommending tour packages to consumers according to their needs, budgets, preferences, and any other related services. The business acts as a middleman between the consumer and tour operator.
  2. Tour Operator: As mentioned above, a tour operator is not the same as a travel agecy. This specific job is the one responsible for “completing the package.” Tasks include booking tickets, making hotel reservations, planning the trip and visits, arranging for transportation, or if needed, hiring a tour guide. Once complete, the package is offered by the travel agency to be sold in the market, if not by the tour operator itself.
  3. Wholesaler: As the name suggests, the company arranges for travel programs that accommodate the customers’ plans. Then, this is handed over to the Travel Agency who is an accessible source to consumers for reselling.

To operate under a certain business scope as mentioned above, a business also needs to obtain a license specific to its operations. This can be either of the following types: 

  1. Local Tour Business: This is also known as Specific Area License and allows the business to run its operations under a specific parameter, i.e. within a province and its adjoining province and is limited to serving only Thai tourists.
  2. Domestic Travel Business License: Expanding the limitations from province to country, this license is for applicants who can accommodate foreign tourists within the Kingdom of Thailand at an upgraded package.
  3. Inbound Travel Business License: Under this license, the tour business can attend to guiding both Thai tourists as well as foreign tourists visiting the Kingdom. This business type is allowed to sell tour packages online.
  4. Outbound Travel Business License: This type of license enables a business to conduct operations within and outside of the Kingdom. 

In addition to the above-mentioned business licenses, the tour guide conducting the tour visits also needs to obtain a TAT license.