Following the Ministry of Interior’s suggestion to enable small hotels to operate more readily as homestays, a coalition of hotel organisations is urging a relaxation of building laws that have rendered 20,000 small hotels illegal. Ten hotel and tourism organizations asked the prime minister to modify some regulations for smaller hotels that can’t afford to rebuild.

As Thailand’s tourism economy recovers, some provincial governments have closed unregistered hotels. But not all were shady. Many people were trapped since the structures they were staying in couldn’t pass hotel licensing tests.

Business and government have been negotiating this issue since December, but the prime minister’s office has not yet responded. The group wants these rules halted while they’re addressed.

Small hotels are just starting to benefit from the post-pandemic tourism resurgence, they say.

According to the president of the Khao San Road Business Association, small hotels can’t comply with building standards and register as legal hotels. They aren’t working unlawfully to evade taxes or the law.

Small hotels may have rented ancient commercial buildings without fire escapes, hallway dimensions, or disabled parking. Some people can’t build or expand to compensate.

We pay income, building, and land taxes like other hotels, but we can’t receive a license.

At least 3,000 Bangkok hotels with an average of 29 rooms are stuck. Thailand has 20,000 such motels.

Most illegal motels might be registered legally with simple changes. Wider passageways and staircases are required. Up to 80% of hotels may be allowed if this regulation only applied to buildings taller than five floors and corridor width in lower buildings was only one meter.

In Phuket, 80% of hotels may become legal if an environmental legislation reduces the needed amount of unoccupied area from 30% to 10%. According to the group, well-intentioned policies make it impossible for small enterprises to adapt, forcing many to close.

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