Tourism fee to help insure foreigners visiting Thailand
The National Tourism Policy Committee has approved the proposed guidelines for the collection of a 300-baht tourism fee from each international visitor for the management of local tourist destinations.
The money will also be used to provide insurance benefits to international tourists visiting the country.
Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said each foreign visitor will be charged US$10 (300 baht) per visit. The details of the fee collection will be announced in the Royal Gazette once the policy has taken effect.
According to Mr Phiphat, Thailand expects to receive some 10 million visitors this year.
He said the merit of the 300-baht tourism fee is that foreign tourists who fall sick or are injured will be taken care of and given adequate medical care.
The ministry will have to discuss the details with the Finance Ministry and the Office of Insurance Commission.
Of the 300-baht fee, 34 baht is expected to be used for the insurance coverage, Mr Phiphat said.
The fee collection is in line with the revised National Tourism Policy Act, which authorises the ministry to impose a tourism fee for use in developing local destinations and providing insurance coverage to foreign tourists.
Tourism permanent secretary Chote Trachu on Thursday said the fee collection was initially due to begin last year, but it was put on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said the National Tourism Policy Committee has assessed the situation and agreed the tourism fee collection should go ahead this year.
According to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), the country had been forecast to close last year with merely 6.7 million international tourists -- not much more than the number prior to last year's outbreak of Covid-19 -- despite government attempts to activate entry schemes for foreigners via Special Tourist Visas (STVs).
With a second wave of outbreaks gripping many countries around the world, particularly during the winter months, triggering new rounds of lockdowns, Thailand is expected to wait longer -- until the second half of this year -- to see more visitors file back into the kingdom and revive the ailing industry.
While the TAT previously predicted the domestic market would reach 100 million trips last year, the recent spike in local cases led the agency to revise down the target to 95 million trips, a result of the partial lockdowns in some provinces.