Guest Of The Tourism Authority Of Thailand
Posted by on Aug 4, 2012 in TAT, Thailand

I receive email alerts from Google for the term “Tourism Authority of Thailand” and received one today that was a little out of the ordinary.

I usually see the same online news media with the latest and greatest campaign from the Tourism Authority of Thailand, but this alert was from a media source I did not recognize.

The article that sang the praises of Thailand the Tourism Authority of Thailand was in the Indian Weekender (Pulse of the Kiwi Indian Community) with the article titled Responsible change to travelling ‘green’ in Thailand. The article hardly mentions what the Tourism Authority of Thailand is doing to green up tourism in Thailand – it reads like a travel brochure promoting Thailand.

Then I noticed a line at the very bottom of the article –

* Rama Gaind was a guest of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Anantara Bangkok Riverside Resort & Spa and Cape Nidhra Hotel Hua Hin.

So, the writer was a guest of the Tourism Authority of Thailand and two hotels. This got me thinking. I wonder if a deal is struck with the Tourism Authority of Thailand to write a favorable article so one gets asked back for more free hotel rooms. So, I decided to do a little research. I Googled “Rama Gaind was a guest of the Tourism Authority of Thailand” and saw that Rama had written a bunch of articles for the Tourism Authority of Thailand and all were very favorable and all had the same line at the end of the article with some identifying the hotel(s) stayed at:

Rama Gaind was a guest of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Anantara Bangkok Riverside Resort & Spa and Cape Nidra Hotel Hua Hin.

So, it was time to see who Rama Gaind is. Another Google search led me to Linkdin which has two listings for Rama Gaind – don’t know if male or female – but one listing states that Rama is a Freelance Feature Writer and the other Rama Gaind is Public Affairs Officer at the Department of Health and Ageing and both list Canberra, Australia as the location – so could be one person with two accounts. Checking one of the other Rama Gaind articles, in PSNews, ‘Amazing Thailand’ is in the ‘green’ there was a link to find out more about Rama Gaind and found out that Rama is a she. Here is part of her Bio:

Rama Gaind is a Canberra-based Public Servant and journalist with more than 30 years experience of working in mainstream Australian media. She has written for The Canberra Times, Chronicle, Queanbeyan Age, Leader Newspaper Group in Melbourne, Sunday Sun-Herald and Radio 2CA in roles as diverse as newspaper editor, sub-editor, journalist, advertising writer, feature/lifestyle writer, copywriter, photographer and marketing executive.

So, Rama has been around for a while and has a lot of writing experience. This shows as she is published in a number of online media sources. But, I needed to find out more of what the Tourism Authority of Thailand was doing so I Googled “guest of the Tourism Authority of Thailand” to see if there were other writers that were doing the same thing. Sure enough, there are a bunch of them.

Here are a couple – Kate Armstrong writing for The Age – Kerb your appetite and Sharon Wrobel for the Jerusalem Post with Phuket’s tsunami-stricken coastline is bouncing back and BEVAN EAKINS, The West Australian, with Thai restaurant boasts toilet humour. There is even an article by Rama Gaind for a Spanish speaking audience with some articles in English – at El Centro, Americano Newspaper – Bollywood films capitalise on scenic locations in Thailand.

They all have one thing in common – they were all guests of the Tourism Authority of Thailand and some were guests of hotels and one of an airline. Pretty good gigs and a step above a travel blogger.

I may have to look into being a freelance writer though I know that the Tourism Authority of Thailand would never make me a guest even if I compromised my morals and promised to only write nice things.

Now, this also got me thinking about money. After these freelance writers got their free stay at a hotel, and perhaps free tours and meals, did they also get paid for the articles they wrote? The reason I wonder, is I see the articles in a variety of online news media sources and not just from one “newspaper” – meaning they are not the “travel writer” for one particular online media source.

I also wonder what would happen if one of these freelancers had a bad experience and documented it. Would it get printed? Would they get asked back to Thailand? Or, is part of the deal that they must write a favorable article?

Does the Tourism Authority of Thailand proof the articles prior to submission? I will have to research this more or maybe get lucky and one of the freelance writers I mention in this article will respond.

In the meantime, I will eagerly await the call from the Tourism Authority of Thailand to be a guest at a 5-star beach resort.

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