Thailand will provide insurance for foreign tourists when tourism fees for international arrivals are imposed in June, deputy government spokeswoman Traisuree Taisaranakul said on Thursday.
Entry fee collection was approved by the cabinet on Tuesday for every foreigner visiting Thailand. Visitors arriving by air must pay 300 baht while international visitors arriving by land or sea will have to pay 150 baht.
The fees will not apply to holders of diplomatic or official passports, foreigners who have a work permit, children under two, day trippers, transit passengers, or others catagorised by the national tourism committee.
Ms Traisuree said that when the fees start, Thailand will be the first country in the world to offer insurance covering accidents, death and the repatriation of bodies. The insurance is a government effort to boost confidence among tourists, she said.
Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said the fees will be known as Thailand traveller fees (TTF). They will take effect 90 days after the government publishes the announcement in the Royal Gazette, with the start date expected on June 1.
The government expects to collect a total of 3.9 billion baht in fees in 2023. Some of the earnings will be allocated for health and accident insurance for tourists during their stay, he said.
From 2017-2019, the government needed to subsidise medical treatment for foreign tourists in state hospitals worth about 400 million baht, he said.
Department of Health Service Support (DHSS) chief, Dr Natthawut Prasertsiripong, said some foreign tourists could not pay hospital bills or fully pay their bills after they received treatment in state hospitals.
Although the DHSS had a claims centre to help follow up on securing payments from patients or their relatives, its efforts are far from successful.