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Call for delay of new tourist entry fee

BANGKOK: The new B300 tourism fee due to take effect in April is drawing mixed reactions from tourism operators as the recovery remains tepid and fragile.

By Bangkok Post

Thursday 13 January 2022, 07:53AM

Foreign tourists arrive at Suvarnabhumi airport following the country’s reopening to vaccinated arrivals on Nov 1, 2021. Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul / Bangkok Post

Foreign tourists arrive at Suvarnabhumi airport following the country’s reopening to vaccinated arrivals on Nov 1, 2021. Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul / Bangkok Post

“If the country wants to welcome back tourists, the tourism fee has to be put off until at least 2023 as the sector has to be rebuilt from the ground up because of the Omicron variant,” said Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, president of the Thai Hotels Association.

She said even though the amount of the fee is small, it would have a psychological impact on tourists, particularly those who travel as a group as well as cross-border travellers who frequently visit the country, reports the Bangkok Post.

Mrs Marisa said the idea of using the fund for tourist insurance and developing tourism sites is worthwhile, but the timing is off because the country will lose out amid intense competition.

Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn, president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents, said the new fee will worsen travel confidence following the indefinite suspension of the Test & Go scheme and the country’s ongoing battle against COVID-19.

He said a more appropriate time to enforce the fee would be when Thai tourism returns to 2019 levels, after Chinese tourists start to come back and global travel properly resumes.

Chamnan Srisawat, president of the Tourism Council of Thailand, said he agreed with the plan to use tourism fees to develop the travel industry’s supply side. However, the council would like more clarity regarding the funding mechanism.

The rapid spread of the Omicron variant prompted the government to delay collection of the fee until April, pushed back from the original launch date of this month.

Government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said fee collection was delayed because the tourism industry has yet to recover, while Omicron is expected to impact the domestic tourism sector and the overall economy in the first quarter.

The new entry fee will be collected from foreigners entering Thailand by air, land and sea, he said.

The scheme is part of a 20-year national strategic plan that requires government agencies to have recurring income to sustain and stabilise the national economy.

The fee is expected to be transferred to the Tourism Transformation Fund managed by the Tourism and Sports Ministry. This fund aims to rebuild and develop tourism supply chains as well as offer safety and security for tourists.

Mr Thanakorn said the fee also sponsors an insurance programme for tourists in case of accidents, offering tourists benefits worth B1 million in case of death or a minimum of B500,000 for medical expenses.

He said the fee is added to plane ticket prices for visitors entering via airplane.

The idea of collecting entry fees from foreign visitors has been discussed since 2019, but it was delayed because of the pandemic.

According to Mr Thanakorn, the Tourism and Sports Ministry reported that COVID-19 had a severe impact on tourism confidence, and the tourism fund should set aside a budget for state agencies to look after tourists affected by the pandemic.

The ministry expects revenue from tourism this year of B1.3-1.8 trillion, contributed by 5-15 million foreign tourists.

He said if tourists were mainly from Europe or the US, arrivals were estimated at 5mn this year. This figure rises to about 7mn if arrivals also come from India, said Mr Thanakorn.

If China allows its citizens to travel abroad in the second half of the year, arrivals in Thailand could reach about 9mn this year, he said.

If Thailand reopens its borders with Myanmar, Laos and Malaysia for travel, the number could even hit 15mn, Mr Thanakorn said.

The ministry predicts the annual number of domestic tourism trips at 160mn, generating about B700 billion in income.

He said the prime minister ordered all related agencies to closely monitor the pandemic situation overseas and prepare to rehabilitate the tourism sector as fast as possible because the industry plays an important role in generating income for the Thai economy.

Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, the tourism and sports minister, said his ministry has held discussions with most airlines that provide service to Thailand.

An agreement may be reached to include the fee in their airfares by March, he said.

For land transport, tourists will be encouraged to pay the fee via an app before crossing the border, said Mr Phiphat.

He said foreign workers who have to cross borders on a daily basis will be exempt from this policy.

The fee will not affect travel sentiment as the government has publicly discussed the policy since last year and many countries already collect such a levy, said Mr Phiphat.

The tourism fee is expected to generate at least B1.5bn this year from 5mn tourists, of which 1.25bn would be allocated to tourism sites to upgrade services, such as building accessible facilities for the disabled and providing public toilets, he said.

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christysweet | 13 January 2022 - 20:29:45

I appreciate how Kurt doesn't resort to slurs or  insults because he actually has something to say.  Be more like Kurt. 

Hermann1 | 13 January 2022 - 15:09:21

Yes Kurt. Spot on as always. We love you !

Poc | 13 January 2022 - 14:44:50

The amount is small for one person, but for families the fee adds up especially when put on top of the price of pcr tests. 

Pooliekev | 13 January 2022 - 14:13:26

Kurt, if it hurts so much why stay? Go home and save a few euros. Dont just cry here. 

Kurt | 13 January 2022 - 12:00:31

Many years Thailand has already a entry/tourist fee. The so called delayed 2019 entree/tourist fee would be a 2nd. Remember? This plus a daily hotel tourist fee. Now, let Government show first what all these years behing us were these fees used for? Other countries have fees too, right. But they not have discriminating dual pricing, which is often more than dual. 

Nasa12 | 13 January 2022 - 11:20:32

@Kurt , that is the truth 

DeKaaskopp | 13 January 2022 - 11:01:24

Kurt stop crying! Thailand isn't the first country with a tourist fee.Many other countries have and the fee is much higher at some places.

Kurt | 13 January 2022 - 10:18:03

Sit down a minute and calculate what you already have to pay for the SandBox Scheme time, including tourist tax quarantine SHA+ hotel. And this all before your real holiday starts. So far years of  tourist taxes are not use for public toilets/showers at beaches. The few dirty toilets you can find at beaches  you must pay for.  Naiharn shower stands, without water piping.

Kurt | 13 January 2022 - 09:56:50

@Nasa,  when this 3rd tax starts off by April, than together it is almost B1000, that is about 26 Euro upon arrival day + further daily hotel tourist tax  That for a 3rd world country where is invisible what the money is used for. Not for cleaning the advertised Phuket beaches. That is volunteer work.

Kurt | 13 January 2022 - 09:45:49

There is already a tax on a flight ticket, plus hotel tourist tax. But it is nice this extra B300 tax includes payment 'by death' and health sickness insurance. So, by passing away and for hospital admission now only inflight boarding pass have to be shown, as new tax will also be in the ticket?

Nasa12 | 13 January 2022 - 09:38:45

Mallorca in Spain have this for many many year, 3 euro every day. 

JohnC | 13 January 2022 - 09:09:45

If tourists are too cheap to fork out 300B (less than $10) then maybe they are not the right people to let visit in the first place. Less than the price of 2 beers at bars or restaurants.


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