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Aine Mar 18th, 2004 07:22 AM

Special Prices for Asians Only - your thoughts please?
Hi, I have been booking our hard worked for, and hard earned vacation in Asia for this coming Summer. I have come across, as early as this morning's email of special prices for "Malaysian (or Asian) Residents only. Not valid for another people," and I have to admit I am deeply offended. The hotels I have looked at are way more expensive by any standards for non-Asians. I don't know what to think about this, I know on one hand they are giving people a break who live there, but it seems totally unfair and has the flavor of being racially tainted to me. I think if the situation were reversed when people visited my country, tourists would also be appalled. Help! I do not mean to be mean spirited, but it kind of hurts.

JamesA Mar 18th, 2004 07:42 AM

If this is a Promotion for Malaysian or ASEAN residents then it is quite normal. Look at this another way, you can buy for example discount tickets /pass tickets to fly on Thai Airways from overseas cheaper than what we would pay in Thailand. Pre Virgin Blue in Australia arriving on the scene I could get from Thailand a cheaper domestic flight within Australia than someone living in Australia, that was a 'Visit Australia' Fare by Qantas and Ansett ( before Ansett ceased).
It sounds to me simply a promotion locally with a special offer to encourage domestic or regional tourism.
I would not feel 'deeply offended' and
would not worry about it.

carrom Mar 18th, 2004 08:01 AM

We found the same thing in India. Getting into the Taj Mahal in Agra is really expensive for non-Indians. But then last year I went to the colosseum in Rome with my kids and because we're roman we got in free! I thought that was nice and it made the kids feel proud and part of their city. So I suppose it depends which way you look at it....

Aine Mar 18th, 2004 08:05 AM

Thanks guys, this is making me a little happier, although I will be waiting for a LONG time to get something free where I am a resident - in NYC! :)

rkkwan Mar 18th, 2004 08:05 AM

I think the OP should look at email again and see it says "ASEAN", not Asians. It makes zero sense to say Asian, as how do you define it?

A Russian living in Siberia. Is he/she Asian? A Turkish living in the main part of his country, or Istanbul?

Aine Mar 18th, 2004 08:07 AM

rkkwan - my mistake - you are right, I guess I was on my high horse and read it too quickly, I still feel a little miffed though! Reverse the situation and just honestly tell me that you would not feel the same (even a teeny bit?)

rkkwan Mar 18th, 2004 08:19 AM

It depends on local law, policy and financial incentives. And has nothing about prejudice. The US is one of the more "relaxed" country when it comes to offering deals for people. For example, as long as you say you're a student, or if you look like a senior, ticket agents at most museums or attractions will not ask for ID, or stuff like that. And there's never a distinction whether you're a US citizen or not (except through INS lines at the airport, of course).

In other countries, that's not the way it works. For example, many European countries have very high tax-rate, and with that comes a lot of benefits that only apply to EU citizens.

But it can also work the opposite way. For example, many European railpasses are sold only outside Europe, for the benefits of tourists.

So, read slowly and think about what the promotion or "special' is about. There are times where tourists are the beneficiaries, sometimes the locals.

Race have absolutely nothing to do with this.

rkkwan Mar 18th, 2004 08:29 AM

I will also state this. One major reason for all this price-differentials in developing countries (not talking about Europe now) is that there's still a huge difference between the living standards of locals and Western tourists. It is quite understandable why they would like to charge more for tourists.

One example is China. It's improved a lot in recent years, but when it was first open to foreigners about 20 years ago, most people make about US$10 a month + grain vouchers. US$10 a month! You'd find that attractions in Beijing and elsewhere charge foreigners dozens or even 100x more for fees. Foreigners even have their own currency, which can be converted back to foreign currencies, while the yuan cannot. There was difference in airfare, hotel rate, train tickets, etc charged to foreigners and locals until very recently.

Aine Mar 18th, 2004 08:57 AM

I understand the concept of what you are explaining but still bothers me. I have had this argument with my husband, who feels like you do, but I just do not think this whole thing is fair. I am not trying to be insensitive or sound like a total boor but most people all over the world, the US and Europe included do not make the income to travel or visit hotels. I think the people who can afford to travel do have decent incomes. Take this example from They are offering the Datai to Malaysian & PR for about US$347 for a villa. To "others" the price for the same villa is US$447. Anybody who can afford the $347 must be making a serious income so I do not understand the differential.

I am European and a resident of the US. I have never received preferential treatment in either for a vacation deal.
As to paying high taxes in Europe, yes you do, but you are paying for the benefits (mostly medical and child related) the same as everyone else. US taxes may feel lower, but you end up paying out either way.

I can understand little perks such as museum passes and bus and rail passes being free or cheaper, but sorry not luxury hotels.

dywong Mar 18th, 2004 09:34 AM

Not to question your expection of fairness, but "special pricing" that favors locals is not only accepted, but fairly common ... even in the US. Examples are many. For instance, residents of southern california are able to take advantage of heavily discounted tickets to Disneyland, which are not available to or usable by those from outside the area. Is this a form of discrimination? Of course, but it makes business sense obviously.

PJKeay Mar 18th, 2004 10:58 AM

In England many of the royal palaces are supported by taxpayers money. I tend to think when visiting some of these palaces I should get a discount as an investor if nothing else. Therefore I sort of accept the idea of double standards elsewhere. I may pay a few pounds to go the Taj Mahal, its not a lot to me, but is a fortune for local people.

Heaven forbid we end up in a world where tourism is the preserve of the rich.

Neil_Oz Mar 18th, 2004 11:46 AM

I can't really blame poor countries for milking western tourists a little, but I'd like to think the extra money somehow benefits the local people rather than lining the pockets of the international hotel chains. US$100 a night for a hotel in China is way out of whack with local wages, where a schoolteacher may earn as little as $150 a month.

For the record, if the special pricing applied to ASEAN residents, that means the Association of South East Asian Nations, whose members are Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Not, unfortunately, Australia - our past attempts to join the club have been denied, largely on racial/historical grounds.

Aine Mar 18th, 2004 12:20 PM

If hotels in these countries really wanted to benefit the welfare of the general population, maybe they should pay their staff more (which we all know they are paid virtually nothing) and charge everybody who can afford it the same price. I think the living standards between anybody - regardless of residency - who can afford to pay for these hotels (even at the discounted prices) and the local population are worlds apart.

artisland Mar 18th, 2004 01:55 PM

Special prices to Disneyland for Southern California residents and what happens in asian countries is not comparable. Southern Californians don't get to wait in a separate line for tickets, do they?
I once got in the "thai" only line for tickets once in Thailand by mistake and the seller was nice enough to give me the "native" price. I would'nt mind paying more for transportation like buses, since I'm taking up a seat some poor soul on their way to work might want. But temples and museums and other

orgy7 Mar 18th, 2004 04:48 PM

im with aine. I'm a farang living in thailand. I get how it all works but it still drives me crazy and I complain about it just about every day.

who likes getting ripped off.

who dislikes getting a break.

Neil_Oz Mar 18th, 2004 05:17 PM

Aine, I'm in violent agreement :) - but if we looked at the ownership of the upscale hotels I think we'd find mostly American, European, Japanese and overseas Chinese money and yes, they do pay local staff a pittance while extracting big bucks from foreign visitors. But I don't think that a differential pricing policy is inherently racist, more a case of (broadly) charging what the market will bear. Capitalism 1.01, maybe - I'll bet your phone company is charging you a whole lot more for a toll call than it charges its corporate customers.

Aine Mar 18th, 2004 06:25 PM

This thing keeps picking the hell out of me. Orgy7: what you said kind of freaked me out and compounded my feelings about this if you mean that you live there, so are a "resident," I hope you do not mean that you do not get the same benefits? Then I would be really concerned.

My husband is Asian American, it would be interesting to see what happens if he just stood in the Thai line and kept his mouth shut, would that mean that it would just be presumed that he was a native? that would be a presumption of race.

Neil I agree with you but the bottom line is competition, supply and demand. What I dont understand in this case is that if the demand by natives so high that the hotels have to offer these rates that kind of blows the economic difference theory out of the water. I do not have any problem with special benefits for transportation, educational, or cultural things - but luxuries - yes. I do not think in any way that there is intentional racist goings on here but I am hard pressed to get away from the slightest feeling that it is happening unintentiontally.

Aine Mar 18th, 2004 06:38 PM

Sorry - badly written "presumption of race" - to clarify: presume because of race = residency. (just before I get slammed) :)

Andrea_expat Mar 19th, 2004 12:41 AM

There are different types of price descrimination, some of which are for residents only (regardless of race, so that, for example, as a caucasian American who lives in China, I can also get some of these types of deals that are frequently offered for hotels in China or in Hong Kong), and some of which are for citizens only (so I can't get the discounts, and neither could a Chinese-American, but my Chinese colleagues could). (While my examples are for China they apply to other countries, too.)

There are also different purposes. Sometimes, like for museums, it's because of the perceived income disparity, or just perhaps the idea that they want to encourage local people to attend/visit local cultural attractions, or offer a benefit to their own citizens.

While it the policies aren't overtly based on race, it is possible that a person who LOOKS like they might be a citizen, speaks the language like a local, etc., might be able to sneak in with the local discount - this isn't meant to be racist, it's just a question of enforcement of the policy.

For example, in Cambodia, I believe it's free for Cambodians to enter the Angkor temple complexes - people even do laundry and bathe in some of the canals there. I don't think that they probably check every person who really looks like a local citizen for ID (although the policy is probably that they should). While it would be very difficult to "pass" for a local, I'm sure it's possible.

At any rate, deals on hotels, even luxury hotels, are sometimes offered for different reasons, and it's just economics.

For example, there are probably fewer ASEAN tourists who stay at that hotel. The number of other foreign tourists who are booking that hotel during a certain season may be fairly stable. If business isn't great, the hotel may decide that the level foreign business level is fine, but they want to encourage more local/regional travel, so they offer a discount that is available to local/regional residents only, in order to increase business for travel within the region. This happens all the time for hotels in Shanghai, Beijing, and Hong Kong.

I don't have any particular problem with either of the two senarios.

Grcxx3 Mar 19th, 2004 01:50 AM

Such resident/non-resident rate differences also exist in Egypt. I'm not sure of the orignal reason for this, but I have to agree with the posters above that the wage differential is one reason.

These discounted fares and prices apply to local Egyptians and to any foreigners working here that have been given resident visas. Kids with an ID from the American and British schools in Egypt get a discount to enter the museum and other attractions.

Egypt was very hard hit by the post
9-11 avoidance of the Middle East, and of traveling in general. In late November of 2001, our family of 4 + guide was the ONLY group walking around the Valley of the Queens. I felt so sorry for the local merchants - many of whom just closed up their shops.

During this time, these price breaks allowed many of the up-scale hotels to stay in business by attracting local (granted - middle class and up) residents and those with resident visas. However, many hotels still had to cut staff and guest services.

Now that tourism is back up, the resident rates are still available, but the hotels are filled with more higher-paying foreigners. As a result, hotel staff levels have increased, services have improved, and more tourist attractions have opened.

I guess it all boils down to simple economics!

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