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Bangkok Post - Ministry allocates B50m for tourist insurance scheme
Ministry allocates B50m for tourist insurance scheme

Ministry allocates B50m for tourist insurance scheme

Ms Sudawan, centre right, and Mr Mongkon, centre left, at a press conference. Ms Sudawan says the ministry wants to provide a safety assurance for foreign tourists. (Photo supplied)
Ms Sudawan, centre right, and Mr Mongkon, centre left, at a press conference. Ms Sudawan says the ministry wants to provide a safety assurance for foreign tourists. (Photo supplied)

The Tourism and Sports Ministry has set aside a budget of 50 million baht to assist foreign tourists in case of death or accidents in fiscal 2024.

The ministry said the amount is sufficient to cover its target of 35 million foreign arrivals this year, as average annual claims during the past five years did not exceed this amount.

Tourism and Sports Minister Sudawan Wangsuphakijkosol said the government views the tourism industry as a major revenue driver, while the ministry wants to provide a safety assurance for foreign tourists.

As of Feb 11, there have been 4.3 million foreign arrivals, which is on track to reach the target of 35 million by the end of the year, said Ms Sudawan.

The 50 million baht was allocated from a central budget and will be used to compensate foreign visitors on a case-by-case basis during their travel in Thailand from Jan 1 and Aug 31 this year, she said.

The maximum coverage is 1 million baht per person in the event of death and 300,000 baht per person for permanent organ loss, loss of sight or permanent disability, with a maximum of 500,000 baht for medical expenses.

Tourists are eligible for the coverage if the incidents do not stem from their carelessness, intention for illegal activity, or their own risky behaviour. They must be visiting Thailand with a tourist visa or for the purpose of tourism.

The insurance programme covers a vacuum period as the Foreign Tourists Assistance Fund expired.

The fund was dissolved two years ago and a new tourism fee is expected to be collected for tourism insurance and to develop tourism attractions.

Foreign tourists take snaps along Yaowarat Road in Chinatown on Feb 10, 2024, on the first day of Lunar New Year. Ms Sudawan said the government views the tourism industry as a major revenue driver, while the ministry provides safety assurance for foreign tourists. (Photo: Nutthawat Wichieanbut)

The new fee scheme was supposed to charge 300 baht for arrivals by air and 150 baht for arrivals by sea and land, but it has been postponed indefinitely.

Ms Sudawan said although the ministry does not plan to cancel the 300-baht tourism levy, it will not implement it during the next 5-6 months as the ministry aims to ramp up the number of arrivals and tourism spending.

Mongkon Wimonrat, the ministry's deputy permanent secretary, said the budget is sufficient as the annual average compensation should not exceed this amount.

From fiscal 2018 to fiscal 2022, the highest number of claims was in 2018 with 103 cases worth 52 million baht.

Mr Mongkon said the high amount was attributed to the boat that capsized off of Phuket.

In 2019, which set the record for tourism arrivals, the number of claims recorded was 24 cases worth 6 million baht.

He said the majority of foreign tourists normally buy their own travel insurance before visiting Thailand. Group tourists are required to buy travel insurance under the Tourism Business and Guide Act of 2008. Only a small number of independent tourists do not buy travel insurance, said Mr Mongkon.

The scheme requires tourists to pay their own medical expenses first, then offers reimbursement.

A Tourist Assistance Center operated by the Provincial Office of Tourism and Sports will help tourists claim expenses within 15 days, with compensation expected within another 15 days, he said.

Foreign tourists walk along Yaowarat Road in Chinatown on Feb 10, 2024, on the first day of Lunar New Year. Ms Sudawan said tthe government views the tourism industry as a major revenue driver, while the ministry provides safety assurance for foreign tourists. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)

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