Employers’ confederation stands for tour hostess sacked for not smiling

A representative of the Employers’ Confederation of Thailand has urged the public to sympathise with the garland girl who was sacked for giving ‘fake smiles’ to Chinese tourists, adding that her employer should be condemned for a terrible work environment.
On 9 May 2018, the Tourist Police summoned a tour hostess (name withheld due to privacy concerns) and forced her to apologise for damaging the tourism image of Thailand. She appears in recent viral video clips which have been widely shared on Thai and Chinese social media.
In the clips, the hostess was handing out flower garlands to Chinese tourists at Don Muang Airport, and giving the camera a rather forced smile. However, the smiles quickly disappeared after each tourist turned to get on the bus. Many Chinese have made parody videos mocking her.
According to Tourist Police Deputy Commander Surachet Hakpan, her behaviour spawned parodies on a Chinese video app called Tik Tok, later mirrored on Facebook where they reached Thai netizens. This motivated the police and her employer to hold a press conference for her to apologize to the public for her misbehaviour.
“She was lectured, advised and reprimanded. We also told her to apologize,” said Surachet. “Thais must serve as a good host...They have to be kind to visitors.”
The hostess’ boss, Taweesit Choksermwong, told the media that he has already sacked her and another hostess who appears in the clips, and other staff who were at the incident, including the cameraman, were suspended for seven days.
According to Coconuts Bangkok, one of the hostesses speaking at the press conference said that it was simply a hot day, and they were exhausted from work.
“That day was really hot, and some Chinese tourists mocked me, but I didn’t know that they were taking a video and I’d be widely criticized,” the hostess said. “I feel stressed and sorry because internet users verbally attack me. I’d like to apologise to society for my inappropriate action,” she said.
While Thai people in general were mocking the hostess for lacking a service mentality, Sopon Pornchokchai, a board member of the Employers’ Confederation of Thailand, commented that judging from the viral clips, the hostess was doing a great job because she could smile beautifully in front of the camera, despite her real mood at the moment.
In the hot weather of Bangkok, the fact that she has to give garlands to Chinese tourists and smile over 2,000 times per day, which is five times per minute, with a very few tips in return, makes her case even more pitiful, Sopon said.
In a robot-like job like this, hostesses are paid about 300 baht a day, meaning that they get only 0.15 baht for each garland they hand out. He suggested the employer hire more hostesses to reduce workloads and increase employee morale.
“Hiring one more person for around 300 baht would avoid the damage of being mocked across the world. I count that as very much worth it,” Sopon stated.
Sopon also condemned the hostess’ employer and the police for hosting the press conference and forcing her to apologise for the entire country as if she was a criminal, adding that the one who should be condemned for damaging the image of Thai tourism is the employer himself.
Finally, he condemned the media for reporting the story without censoring the hostess’ face because that will make it difficult for her to find a new job.
(left) the viral video clip (right) Sopon Pornchokchai