Thailand’s tour operators are urging the authorities to delay the introduction of the tourist levy as it could scare away potential tourists
From April 1, the Thai government plans to start levying a new tourist fee on foreigners arriving in the kingdom by land, sea and air. The fee will be included in the price of air tickets and will require advance payment to enter the kingdom by land or sea. Tour operators are urging the authorities to delay the introduction of the 300 baht tourist levy to give the sector time to recover.
The new fee is included in the Ministry of Tourism and Sports’ “Amazing Thailand – A New Chapter” plan, and the money collected from foreigners will go not only to maintain and develop tourist attractions but also to ensure tourists against accidents while travelling to Thailand. If a foreign traveller reports an accident, they will be able to claim up to 500,000 baht for medical expenses. If a tourist dies in Thailand, the family will be paid compensation of up to one million baht.
Despite the relatively small amount of the levy, it could still deter foreigners, especially those who frequently travel to and from the country, said Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi of the Thai Hotel Association, adding that while the concept of the fund is good, now is not the time to introduce it. By doing so, Thailand risks losing out to other countries.
“If the country wants to bring back tourists, the introduction of the tourist levy should be postponed until at least 2023 as the sector will have to be rebuilt virtually from scratch because of the omicron option.”
Sisdivachr Chivarattanaporn of the Association of Thai Travel Agents agrees that the levy should be delayed until tourism returns to pre-pandemic levels and Chinese tourists return to the country. Sisdivachr also believes that now is not the time to suspend the Test&Go entry scheme.
However, requests from the tourism industry may go unheeded. Tourism Minister Phipat Ratchakitprakarn said the ministry has already held talks with most airlines serving Thailand and agreements are likely to be reached to include the fee in fares by March.
Phiphat explained that tourists arriving across the land border would be “encouraged” to pay the fee through an app. However, migrant workers crossing the border daily will be exempted from paying the tourist fee.
The tourism minister says he is confident that the levy will not deter tourists as several other countries already charge a similar levy.
The tourism fund is expected to receive at least 1.5 billion baht from about 5 million tourists. Of which 1.25 billion baht will be allocated for upgrading tourist facilities, such as installing public toilets and creating accessible entrances for the disabled.
Earlier, the Tourism Authority of Thailand had requested that another 200 baht be added to the levy to develop tourism projects. But the tourism minister decided that 300 baht was enough for the current plans. Thailand expects at least 5 million foreign travellers to visit Thailand in the second half of this year.
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