Operators fret over B500 tourist fee

Operators fret over B500 tourist fee

Timeline of policy deemed unsuitable

A tourist takes photos at Patong beach in Phuket, which has seen a gradual increase in tourists thanks to the Phuket sandbox programme. Dusida Worrachaddejchai
A tourist takes photos at Patong beach in Phuket, which has seen a gradual increase in tourists thanks to the Phuket sandbox programme. Dusida Worrachaddejchai

Tourism operators have raised concerns about the 500 baht fee to be collected from foreign tourists next year, worried that the timeline of this policy may not be appropriate for an industry in dire need of recovery.

Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, president of the Thai Hotels Association (THA), said the concept of setting up a transformation fund for the tourism industry is promising, but there are uncertainties next year that could jeopardise the tourism situation.

Even though the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) predicted that Thailand will win back 10 million tourists in 2022, the latest forecast from the Bank of Thailand (BoT) revised down the number to 6 million, mainly attributed to possible virus spread and new variant, low consumer confidence and stimulus measures that still need consistency.

"Fee collection will impact decision making as the additional cost is considerably high compared with the average expenditure while travelling in Thailand, such as hotel room per night of just 1,000 baht. If the government really has to move forward, it should not implement this policy in the first half of next year," said Mrs Marisa.

Meanwhile, the mechanism of this policy still needs an elaborate plan which can ensure that the programme is really feasible for stakeholders across the board.

Given that tourism operators are still struggling with a financial crisis, the co-payment for development or transformation projects using this fund may prevent many of them from taking part as they don't have sufficient cash to invest.

"The transformation fund should be outlined based on the real situation. Operators would like to improve their services under the funding guidelines and are willing to invest, but due to severe income shortage, the government should offer a grace period for operators and let them repay when businesses get back on track," she said.

In a separate development, five tourism spots in Krabi and Phangnga have started receiving tourists directly this month.

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