By Phathinya Srisupamart
They are also calling on authorities to designate Chiang Mai City as a Special Economic Zone for Tourism and legalise them.
Wat Lam Chang abbot Phra Anon Wisuttho, as a community leader, said the area’s 10 hotels and guesthouses – which provide budget-priced alternatives to tourists during crowded festival times – had recently been arrested in sting operations and fined for operating illegal hotels under the Hotel Act 2004.
A guesthouse operator who asked for anonymity said the current law worked against people who wished to turn their homes or dormitory buildings into rooms for daily rental.
The operator said it was costly to renovate properties to meet standards, including 30 per cent green space and fire exits – and there was no guarantee that the improved facility would get the state’s seal of approval, he said.
He claimed that a municipal official had demanded a Bt600,0000 payment “for plan drawing and initial approval” of the three dormitory buildings that he wished to turn into a hotel business. But yet another approval step would be required at the district level to get certified.
“To get through all these steps, can cost up to Bt1 million and there’s no guarantee to get a licence,” he said.
He claimed a friend’s guesthouse had paid Bt2,000 a day to leave the business alone, but six months ago the authorities raided his friend’s place and closed it.
“My friend was fined Bt60,000 and folded that business,” he said.
Another anonymous operator said his place was hit by a sting operation using a foreigner decoy a month ago and he was fined Bt20,000 fine and his place closed.
The petition asking for the small hotels and guesthouses to be legalised will be submitted on May 30 to the Administrative Court for consideration.