Compulsory insurance for tourists eyed
Travel coverage set to launch this year
Compulsory travel insurance for foreign visitors at a 20-baht premium each is expected to debut this year, according to the Office of the Insurance Commission (OIC).
Foreign travellers will be required to pay for the compulsory insurance at immigration offices in airports, while the premium will be directed to Thailand's Tourism Promotion Fund for coverage of payments in the event of claims, said secretary-general Suthiphon Thaveechaiyagarn.
The compulsory travel insurance will offer up to 1 million baht of coverage in cases of death, with a maximum duration of 30 days.
The insurance will have to seek approval from the Tourism and Sports Ministry before being forwarded to the cabinet later.
The travel insurance coverage is intended to bolster the confidence of foreign tourists when visiting Thailand.
Compulsory travel insurance for inbound tourists was raised after a string of foreign tourist tragedies, including last year's boat catastrophe off Phuket that claimed 47 Chinese lives.
The China market is the biggest for Thai tourism, making up nearly 10 million visitors out of the overall 38 million international arrivals last year.
The Tourism and Sports Ministry has forecast the number of foreign tourists this year at more than 40 million, contributing 2.13 trillion baht in revenue.
The tourism industry is one of the Thai economy's few bright spots, generating income that accounts for nearly 18% of the country's GDP.
In a related development, the OIC has launched a peace-of-mind travel programme, a pilot project in Nakhon Nayok province.
Under the scheme, tour operators provide insurance to customers and tour guides.
Mr Suthiphon said Nakorn Nayok is an ideal province for a trial run of the project, as it has plenty of activities for travellers such as rafting, activity at waterfalls, climbing and biking, and these activities carry the risk of accidents.
In 2018, 2.1 million tourists visited Nakhon Nayok province.
"We've encouraged local tour operators to take out insurance for their customers, to provide them protection in case of accidents or death," Mr Suthiphon said.
According to the Tourism Business and Guide Act, tour operators are required to provide tourists insurance coverage of at least 1 million baht per tourist in case of death and 500,000 baht in case of injury.
Any tour operator that fails to comply with the law is liable for up to a 500,000-baht fine.