Thursday, July 7, 2016

Thailand - Spas and massage parlours brace for new laws on their services

THAILAND’S spa and massage service operators are being urged to get ready to adhere to standards covering five areas listed under the 2016 Premises Used for Health Operation Act, which goes into effect on September 27.

Under the Act, therapists will be required to obtain a professional certificate and register with the Department of Health Service Support (DHSS).

Though new businesses can apply for licences immediately once the law goes into effect, old businesses can do so within 180 days, DHSS deputy chief Dr Thongchai Keeratihuttayakorn said. The licence would be valid for five years and require a yearly fee, he added.

Apart from getting registered with the agency, all establishments would be required to clearly display their licence as well as a full list of therapists/service providers, he added.

Thongchai made these comments at a recent forum in Bangkok that was attended by 300 spa operators. The event was held to explain required standards based on five elements: venue; operator; service providers; services and products; and safety measures.

Thongchai explained that the new law would control three types of health service establishments.

Firstly, spa businesses that promote health by providing hydrotherapy and body massage along with at least three additional services such as sauna, aerobics, fitness or hot-stone massage.

The second category covers establishments that cover health or cosmetics services such as facial massage or facial mask service.

The third type covers establishments providing health-related services that are not meant for curing or treating illnesses, such as nursing homes for the elderly.

The business operators must register and obtain a licence from the DHSS, he said. This would provide consumer protection, give credibility to the establishment and boost the country's competitiveness in the health service sector at the international level, he added.

So far, this year, 1,605 health service establishments nationwide have been certified by the DHSS, including 253 in Bangkok.

About 67 per cent of these provide health massage services and 32 per cent provide spa services.

Last year, the Commerce Ministry's Office of Service Trade and Trade Logistics reported that many foreigners used spa services in Thailand, generating Bt30 billion income, up sharply from Bt25 billion in 2013, Thongchai said. He added that once the law and strict controls were in place, people's confidence in Thailand would rise even further.

Dr Pattharapol Jeungsomjetpaisan, chief of the Division of Health Service Establishment, said the division would hold meetings with all related parties next month to explain the new laws. These meetings will be held in Chiang Mai on June 3, Phuket on June 7, Chon Buri on June 14 and Khon Kaen on June 20.

The examination of licences held by health spas will be conducted in November, he said, adding additional information can be sought from (02) 193 7000 extensions 18408 and 18411.

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