State eyes alternative to B300 tourist levy

State eyes alternative to B300 tourist levy

Suvarnabhumi airport is packed with travellers. The government is sidelining the 300-baht tourism fee that was postponed many times during the previous administration, seeking alternative insurance for foreign tourists. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
Suvarnabhumi airport is packed with travellers. The government is sidelining the 300-baht tourism fee that was postponed many times during the previous administration, seeking alternative insurance for foreign tourists. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

The government is sidelining the 300-baht tourism fee that was postponed many times during the previous administration, seeking alternative insurance for foreign tourists.

Amid a deterioration in confidence regarding Thailand's safety, the Tourism and Sports Ministry is studying several options to offer insurance coverage of 500,000 baht per person in case of injury and 1 million baht in the event of death from an accident.

During the cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin instructed the ministry to work on an insurance plan for all tourists, saying the government wants to assure tourists about safety while they travel here.

Tourism and Sports Minister Sudawan Wangsuphakijkosol said as the government is shelving the 300-baht fee scheme during its administration to steady tourism sentiment, the ministry must seek a new plan to protect tourists.

Initially the ministry proposed using a 50-million-baht budget to compensate tourists on a case-by-case basis, such as for the mass shooting at Siam Paragon or the death of a Taiwanese tourist who was denied emergency care at a private hospital last week.

However, with the premier wanting to extend coverage to all tourists, the ministry will consult related authorities and the Office of the Insurance Commission regarding a plan and budget for this scheme, which will be much higher than 50 million baht, she said.

The ministry previously used the Foreign Tourists Assistance Fund to compensate tourists in case of accidents, but this fund was dissolved two years ago and there is still no permanent mechanism nor budget to help tourists.

Mr Srettha said the Tourism and Sports Ministry should talk with the Public Health Ministry about issuing public health measures.

"If there is a need to use the central budget, the ministry should urgently propose the plan to the cabinet," he said.

Mr Srettha also asked the ministry to work with the Royal Thai Police to supervise immigration police and tourist police, assuring tourist safety.

The moves follow an incident last week where a private hospital turned away a Taiwanese tourist, which resulted in his death.

Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, president of the Thai Hotels Association, said providing travel insurance for all foreign tourists should increase their confidence about travelling here.

She said the government should clearly outline the compensation amount based on different types of illnesses and injuries.

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