The Tourism and Sports Minister, Khun Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, has announced the approval of a new 300 baht tourism fee that must be paid by all tourists arriving in Thailand in 2021 and beyond.
According to the Bangkok Post, the new fee has already been approved by the National Tourism Policy Committee and will go into effect as soon as it is announced in the Royal Gazette.
The 300 baht fee (approximately $10) will be used to help pay for the management of local tourist destinations, as well as include a small amount (34 baht) that will allow tourists in Thailand to receive medical care should they have an accident or fall ill.
Details about any insurance coverage are sketchy and are not likely to be announced until the Thai tourism fee is officially enacted.
With all tourists mandated to also pay for an expensive Covid-19 insurance policy even to be allowed entry into Thailand, the inclusion of ‘insurance coverage’ in the fee does seem a little strange. More information is likely to appear once the fee has been formally announced.
With few if any tourists currently arriving in Thailand due to Covid-19, however, the Tourism and Sports Minister is already admitting the number of tourists arriving in the country in 2021 is likely to be quite low.
Especially as many countries are still in lockdown, and conservative estimates do not expect most international tourism to kick off again until late in 2021 at the earliest.
That is why there are only 10 million tourists expected to arrive in Thailand in 2021 compared to the 40 million-plus that would have arrived in 2020 if it hadn’t been for Covid-19.
And, of course, due to the Thai government closing the country’s borders to most foreign arrivals.
With only 10 million tourists, that would still be around 3 billion baht ($100 million) collected as a tourism fee.
Is Thailand’s new 300 baht tourism fee exorbitant?
While most foreigners on the Bangkok Post comments section are slamming the fee, (that is to be expected, however, as a sizable number of disgruntled foreigners seem to inhabit that site’s comments), others are seeing the logic behind the fee.
It is a fee that is similarly collected in many other ASEAN countries and, at only 300 baht, is nothing more than the cost of a couple of drinks for most tourists arriving in the Kingdom.
The government also needs to do something to help resurrect the beleaguered Thai tourism industry and, while 3 billion baht is not an enormous amount, (around 425 baht for each of the approximately 7 million Thais working in the industry), it is a start.
The new Thai tourism fee is also similar or markedly lower than in other countries.
Japan, for instance, charges a 1,000 yen ($9.75) exit fee, while Malaysia adds a 10 ringgit ($2.50) per night fee onto your hotel bill no matter where you stay. Most European countries also charge a per night fee that adds up to much more than 300 baht per visit.
In other words, even with an additional 300 baht tourism fee per visit, tourists to Thailand are getting away with paying far less money than in many countries they visit.