Bangkok Duty-Free Thrives despite Tourist Downturn

Bangkok Airport or Cobra Swamp Sanam-Krueng-Ban was empty of tourists at midnight. My flight was the only one landing at the showcase of Thai technology. The usually lengthy immigration process took less than two minutes and the officials were actually smiling. No one was buying anything at the duty-free shops monopolized by King Power. Tourist arrivals are off by double-digit numbers and sales for duty-free perfumes and luxury goods are threatening the airport enterprises with bankruptcy, however King Power knows how to act in times of adversity and last week had the airport police arrest two British travelers suspected of shoplifting a Givenchy wallet, despite the Thai prosecutor admitting that there was no video backing up the King Power complaints.

The Brits were freed after convoluted negotiations by a Sri Lankan national working for the Tourist Police in which they paid over $11,000 to exact their freedom from a sordid hotel on the airport’s outskirts. They were warned not to tell anyone about their ordeal and finally fled the hotel to the British embassy. Their passports were surrendered to them and the couple were granted departure permits with Thai officials swearing that no charges were being sought against the two.

No one wonder no one is buying anything at King Power.

Avoid them like the plague.

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