Thailand to Charge Foreign Tourists $9 to Enter the Country
(Bloomberg) -- Thailand plans to start collecting a 300 baht ($9) entry fee from foreign holidaymakers as the tourism-reliant nation predicts a recovery for the pandemic-hobbled travel industry once the current Covid wave eases.
The fee will help fund the development of local tourist attractions and an insurance program for visitors, government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana, said in a statement Wednesday. The levy will be added to air ticket prices from April, while the method of collections from entry by land has yet to be determined, he said.
The plan for entry fee comes as the Southeast Asian nation attempts to chart the course for its tourism sector after the pandemic. The country has been experimenting with various plans to revive its travel industry with limited success. While Thailand was forced to suspend quarantine-free visas to curb the spread of omicron, it added more tourist destinations this week to the so-called Phuket Sandbox program to keep the industry afloat.
While the entry fee has been in discussions for a long time, its implementation was delayed by Covid, said Suthipong Phuenphiphop, a vice president of the Tourism Council of Thailand. The levy is similar to charges on tourists in many other countries, and the benefits that will come from the initiative will be huge compared to the nominal fee, he said.
Foreign tourists will have a maximum insurance coverage of 1 million baht each in case of death and up to 500,000 baht for hospital charges, Thanakorn said. The government is targeting as much as 1.8 trillion baht in tourism revenue this year, with 800 billion baht coming from foreign visitors, he said.
The government expects 5 million foreign visitors based on the current situation, with the majority of arrivals expected from Europe and the U.S., Thanakorn said. If Chinese and Indian tourists return, arrivals could reach 9 million, and if land borders are reopened, that number would rise to 15 million, he said.
“Visitors from Europe, the U.S., and the Middle East will continue to be the drivers of the Thai tourism sector this year, and the fee won’t have any impact on these groups,” said Amonthep Chawla, head of research at CIMB Bank Thai Pcl. “The focus right now should be to ensure business operators have enough liquidity to employ workers. But if the current situation stretches into the second half of this year, it’d hurt the economy.”
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