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Differential Pricing at WHS for Foreigners

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Author Solivagant
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#1 | Posted: 18 Dec 2017 04:03 | Edited by: Solivagant 
Our recent trip to Thailand, where we had to pay quite significantly increased entry prices for foreigners (400 baht v 40 for locals at Khao Yai for instance), has set me thinking about the issue of such differentials for visiting World Heritage Sites.

There seem to me to be a number of potential arguments in favour of differential pricing for foreigners
a, The "Socialist" argument - from each and to each according to their means!
b. The "Capitalist" argument - you want to see it so you pay what the market bears and, as a foreigner who has already paid a lot to come here, you will "bear" a lot more than our locals because if you don't pay it now you won't have another chance!
c. The "Cost of Provision" argument - our locals pay for this facility in their taxes and local prices reflect the fact that they have already paid for it - you can't just expect to come in and "freeload"!

The "Socialist Argument" implies a degree of "poverty signalling" by the country doing so - "We are poor and you are rich....". I remember that China charged differentially for foreigners some years ago but (I believe?) that these have all long gone and I can understand why Chinese pride wanted to do so ASAP. A slight finesse on this is the "Currency Argument" (and indeed China made use of this back in its " Foreign Exchange Certificate" days). Iran for instance, wouldn't admit to being "poor" (and indeed isn't) but would claim that the international banking system, dominated as it is by its enemies, together with the sanctions imposed by those enemies, have resulted in an artificially diminished exchange rate which differential ticket pricing goes some way to correcting.

The "Cost of Provision argument" is similar in principle to countries like Switzerland which make foreigners buy a vignette to use the (non toll) motorways (Switzerland might say that a difference is that foreigners can avoid this charge and still see the country, get from A to B etc by using ordinary roads). It could be said that the country using this argument probably advertised itself as a tourist destination offering "attractions" such as the sites which it was now charging extra for, in order to persuade people to choose it as a destination for their holiday over other possible destinations - Thailand certainly does! In those adverts did it make it clear that those attractions would cost the foreign tourist more than the locals - Never!! Would it charge foreigners more for their hotel, their petrol etc etc? It is offering the tourists a "value proposition" because their choice of that country as a destination generates jobs and wealth - then it "kicks them in the teeth" by charging them more to see the sights it offered them in the first place!

The "Capitalist argument" applies particularly in those countries which are aiming to bring in wealthy tourists - I think of Botswana. It isn't really bothered about the "economy" tourist and calculates that the sort of person who is going to pay to stay at upmarket lodges (as frequented by such "celebrities" as Harry and Meghan!) won't care a bit about the entry fee. "Absolute Uniqueness" is another justification. Peru would point out that there is only 1 Machu Picchu in the World and, if it charged twice as much as it does for foreigners, it would still increase its revenue because relatively few would drop out - "We have this unique resource - if you want to "buy" a visit to it then this is what you have to pay. you do the same to us with your "unique" resources such as technology or skills!". I note that Rwanda has just increased the cost of Gorilla visits for foreigners (not yet a WHS of course) to $1500 per hour!!!! Uganda has kept its (Which is a WHS) at $600 but is perhaps silly in economic terms to do so??!

I think a nation's "Psychology" also plays a part in whether it chooses to operate differential pricing or not. India/Pakistan and many African ex colonies still see themselves as "put upon" by the "Western" World and, in their hearts, see it as perfectly reasonable to charge extra whilst other countries, equally as poor, wouldn't want to.

There is also the question of the size of the differential. I was gobsmacked at the 10x ratio being operated by Thailand – it can surely only be "justified" on the "Capitalist argument"! This country figures at around 75th in world terms for Per Capita Income out of around 200 "countries" (there are different league tables on this but the results are all generally similar). Poverty has not been totally eradicated of course and there is still a poor rural class but, on the whole, Thais are doing ok in comparison with many others. Among countries below it are Serbia, Peru and Brazil. It will of course be said that tourists coming to Thailand are not typical of their country's average wealth – but the same is true of Thais who go abroad to countries which don't charge them extra!

Sometimes there are anomolies within countries which don't regularly charge differential entry fee. Earlier this year we were absolutely amazed to be charged extra as foreigners to visit Hahoe village (3000 won v 1000)!!

Some countries seem to vary - I see that Kizhi entry tickets in Russia are 880R v 330R and there is info on the Web that in 2015 Russia charged differentially for the Hermitage. But tickets for the Kremlin seem to be stnadard so perhpas Russia doesn't always charge a differential - does anyone know the general picture?

I have tried below to put together a list of countries which, by policy, charge Foreigners more for entering WHS than locals – It will not be complete! Finding out the position is made more difficult by the fact that many Web sites are aimed totally at foreigners and one just can't tell what locals would pay – up-to-date local knowledge is required!!

Africa (Seems to vary by region – it doesn't seem to be the practice in North or West Africa . S Africa also seems not to do so. But the following do) –
Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Namibia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda

Latin America - Peru (MP at least?) Bolivia (Tiwanaku at least?)

Asia - India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, Iran, S Korea (Hahoe!)

Europe - Russia (sometimes??)

Any others or corrections/extra thoughts?
I might add that we didn't feel that Khao Yai justified its 400 baht and wouldn't recommend it to others - but might still be prepared to shell out $1500 to see Gorillas in Rwanda if we hadn't already seen them!!

Author GaryArndt
Registered
#2 | Posted: 18 Dec 2017 09:11 
I think part of it has to do with how easy it is to identify locals vs foreigners.

If you have a language which isn't widely spoken outside of the country, it is pretty easy to spot tourists. There aren't a whole lot of people who look Thai and speak Thai outside of Thailand.

However, somewhere like the US or UK, it would be hard to know who is a citizen and who isn't.

I know there are some state parks in the US where they charge different rates based on your license plate.

Author Assif
Registered
#3 | Posted: 18 Dec 2017 11:40 
Petra is another example of a major site (like Machu Picchu) which charges foreigners much more than it does locals. Maybe we could establish a corresponding connection?

Uruguay is an interesting contrary example. At least for some years it exempts tourists of VAT for restaurants, hotels, petrol, car rentals and some other services if they pay with foreign credit cards. This way Uruguay wants to boost international tourism by offering extra discounts. On the other hand, encouraging credit card payment is an efficient means against tax evasion which still prevails the Uruguayan economy.

Some German states like Baden-Wuerttemberg used to charge university fees from local and EU students, but not from foreigners. Now Germany is moving towards the contrary direction with the hotly debated vignette for motorways which only non-German vehicles will have to pay. Some EU countries bordering Germany regard this intended toll to be discriminatory and against EU law.

Author elsslots
Admin
#4 | Posted: 18 Dec 2017 12:01 | Edited by: elsslots 
Assif:
Maybe we could establish a corresponding connection?

I think we should. It will be a long list, but it could give us some insight into countries, trends and how high the markups are.

Author elsslots
Admin
#5 | Posted: 18 Dec 2017 12:24 
Solivagant:
c. The "Cost of Provision" argument - our locals pay for this facility in their taxes and local prices reflect the fact that they have already paid for it - you can't just expect to come in and "freeload"!

I've checked a few, and they all seem to apply the "local fee" also to official residents (staying at least a year in the country or so). That suggests option C certainly is a factor.

Also I noticed that citizens of (friendly) neighbouring countries sometimes pay less than other foreigners (but more than locals).

Author elsslots
Admin
#6 | Posted: 18 Dec 2017 12:36 | Edited by: elsslots 
Solivagant:
Earlier this year we were absolutely amazed to be charged extra as foreigners to visit Hahoe village (3000 won v 1000)!!

I would not expect it from South Korea either. It is also not mentioned at the official website: http://www.hahoe.or.kr/english/sub3/sub1.asp

Author Solivagant
Registered
#7 | Posted: 18 Dec 2017 12:47 | Edited by: Solivagant 
elsslots:
they all seem to apply the "local fee" also to official residents (staying at least a year in the country or so).

Thailand has just removed that concession and has big notices at its NP entrances reminding such persons of it!!!!

elsslots:
Also I noticed that citizens of (friendly) neighbouring countries sometimes pay less than other foreigners

E.g Namibia has slight reductions for SADC members (Southern African Development Community - Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.),
That might imply that all these countires also operate differential pricing?

India has "midway" fees for SAARC members (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation - Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka)
and BIMSTEC members (The "Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation" - Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal.)
And yes Nepal operates differential fees at its WHS and gives reductions to SAARC member nationals. It also gives some reductions to Chinese at some but not all sites - all very complicated!! See https://www.welcomenepal.com/plan-your-trip/heritage-site-entry-fees.html

Author Solivagant
Registered
#8 | Posted: 18 Dec 2017 12:49 
elsslots:
Solivagant:
Earlier this year we were absolutely amazed to be charged extra as foreigners to visit Hahoe village (3000 won v 1000)!!

I would not expect it from South Korea either. It is also not mentioned at the official website:

I have sent you the photo of the "Pricing Board"!!!

Author elsslots
Admin
#9 | Posted: 18 Dec 2017 13:20 | Edited by: elsslots 
Hmm, indeed. Maybe our resident Korea specialist winterkjm can say something about it?

Here's the sign:
Hahoe Entrance Fees

Author elsslots
Admin
#10 | Posted: 18 Dec 2017 14:07 

Author clyde
Registered
#11 | Posted: 18 Dec 2017 15:06 
Regarding Hahoe, those who opt to stay overnight in the village won't have to pay the fee (bith foreigners and locals)

Author winterkjm
Registered
#12 | Posted: 19 Dec 2017 02:25 | Edited by: winterkjm 
elsslots:
Hmm, indeed. Maybe our resident Korea specialist winterkjm can say something about it?

I can only think of a couple reasons behind this particular pricing, which apparently is unique to Hahoe (as I know of no other WHS in Korea that has such a policy).

1) Residents are worried about overcrowding, privacy issues (wandering foreigners in private property, etc)

2) Substitute Foreigners with "Chinese" - real purpose is to charge a bit more for the logistical and capacity issues surrounding Chinese Bus Tours

3) Non-governmental choice, strictly chosen by residents.

Author Solivagant
Registered
#13 | Posted: 20 Dec 2017 03:15 | Edited by: Solivagant 
I have had a look at Vietnam to see if it operates differential pricing
This for Hue specifically states that the prices are for both International Visitors AND Vietnamese citizens. Down at the bottom, however, there is a comment that Vietnamese Citizens get a 20% discount off (only) the Imperial Palace entry but I don't think we should count that as "generic Differential Pricing"??
http://www.huedisan.com.vn/TTBTDTCDH.aspx?TieuDeID=104&KenhID=248&ChuDeID=0&TinTucID= 2074&l=en

It has proven more of a problem identifying the position in Indonesia as all the Web sites are clearly aimed at Foreigners. The following site, however, seems to make it clear that Indonesia DOES operate differential pricing for at least its major cultural WHS (Borobodur and Prambenan). It states that the prices it shows are valid for those with "International Passports" whereas those holding KTP (Indonesian ID) or KITAS (foreign resident permit) have different prices. Indeed following the link for such persons shows that at Borobodur the "International tourist" basic visit price is USD25 or IDR325K whereas it is only IDR 40k for locals. The same operates at Prambenan - so around an 8 fold mark up for foreigners in Indonesia.
http://lagunatrip.com/borobudur-entrance-fee-2017-update/
The following site regarding Komodo entry fees would seem to indicate a similar situation for natural sites - it doesn't actually state what the fees for locals are but makes it clear that the cited ones are for "foreign visitors" -
http://www.komodo.travel/komodo-national-park/komodo-national-park-entrance-fee/

Author kintante
Registered
#14 | Posted: 20 Dec 2017 06:02 
Solivagant:
Switzerland which make foreigners buy a vignette to use the (non toll) motorways

this is has nothing to do with foreigners. The vignette is mandatory for all who use the highways, also for Swiss citizens. The problem is only, that there are no vignettes for less than 1 year so far, so if you only use the streets in Switzerland for a few days the cost is rather high.

Author elsslots
Admin
#15 | Posted: 20 Dec 2017 12:25 
Solivagant:
Peru (MP at least?)

MP has, but not Caral Supe or Chavin, and I could not find any for Chan Chan

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