500 baht entry fee to be charged tourists arriving in Thailand in 2014
Public Health Minister Pradit Sintavanarong has been telling anyone who will listen that a new 500 baht fee will be charged tourists coming to Thailand in 2014.
For what you might ask? Nobody really seems to know.
It started off as a 500 baht fee to cover the medical costs of foreigners coming to Thailand, who go to local hospitals for treatment but then don’t pay their medical bills.
It now seems to have expanded to become a fee that will be spent on whatever the Pheu Thai government deems is appropriate, as well as to allow Thailand to “improve the quality of tourists” the country is getting (that last comment from Pradit Sintavanarong as well).
So here are my questions:
1) As I have always paid any medical bill I have had in Thailand (the last one being 7,000 baht), if I am charged a 500 baht entry fee at the Thai border, does that mean I no longer have to pay my medical bills? Because, frankly, I do not want to have to pay twice.
2) How does charging tourists a 500 baht entry fee to Thailand “improve the quality of tourists”? After all, 500 baht is around $17, not a huge sum for any tourist that isn’t Thai.
Besides, how is a “higher quality tourist” categorized? One who spends more money while in Thailand? One who dresses better? One who wais more?
3) If I can go to Malaysia for 90 days with no need to pay for a tourist visa (you get a free 90 day stamp at the airport) and no need to pay a 500 baht entry fee at the airport, wouldn’t it make more sense for me as a tourist to go on holiday to Malaysia instead?
The people in Malaysia are as friendly as the Thais, the food is great, the country is beautiful, and the Malaysian government does not seem to be planning on charging tourists just to go there.
Coming to Thailand and paying a 500 baht entry fee? Malaysia may just turn out to be a better option for some.
As to if and when this proposed 500 baht tourist fee may go into effect? Nobody yet seems to know.
We will keep you informed when we find out.