Tourism fee to hit all foreigners
Expat and diplomat exemptions ruled out
The planned 300-baht tourism fee is expected to apply to all foreigners without exception, serving as insurance coverage of up to 500,000 baht per person in case of accidents.
But the fee has been repeatedly postponed since it was proposed in January this year, with an uncertain timeline for its launch.
Mongkon Wimonrat, assistant permanent secretary at the Tourism and Sports Ministry, said the collection method and system for those arriving by air is now ready to launch. However, he said the ministry needs to conduct further studies on land and sea entry, meaning the programme will start when all ports of entry are equipped with feasible collection methods.
The tourism fee was initially planned for collection from international arrivals, with the exception of diplomats and expatriates in Thailand.
However, Mr Mongkon said exemptions for certain groups cannot be implemented as airline ticketing systems have to embed the fee, and airfares only recognise passenger information listed in passports.
As a result, the fee collection will apply to all entrants who are not Thai citizens, regardless of nationality or visa type, he said.
"The 300-baht fee will guarantee insurance coverage during foreigners' stay in Thailand for up to 30 days," said Mr Mongkon.
For travellers encountering an accident, riot, terrorism attack, natural disaster or other incidents, coverage is restricted to a maximum of 500,000 baht, while coverage for any damage caused by emotional distress cannot exceed 20,000 baht, said the ministry.
In the event of death, the insurance pays out 1 million baht per person, while coverage for crematory expenses is up to 150,000 baht per person. Covid-19 and other types of illness are excluded from this coverage, said the ministry.
"The government has to reconsider the timeline to start this programme," said Mr Mongkon. "Some countries have not fully reopened, so we might have to wait for a more appropriate time to launch."
The entry fee for day-pass entrants will be reduced from 300 baht to facilitate cross-border trade and business, he said.
The Airlines Association of Thailand last month raised concerns about the scheme as the fees applied to foreigners might be regarded as discriminatory.
In June the ministry removed the programme from the agenda of a cabinet meeting, saying the fee collection method for land entry had not yet been decided.
If the programme is approved by the cabinet, fee collection should start within 90 days after publication in the Royal Gazette.