Pretty soon, Thailand is set to introduce 2 levels of pricing across the hospitality sector in a bid to revitalize its Covid-struck economy: one for tourists, and another for locals and residents. Yep, that’s right. In the future, you will be expected to pay more for accommodation when visiting Thailand… Only because you’re a tourist.
In sum, Thailand is slowly reinventing itself as a more bougie destination, and instead of the usual backpackers that flooded into Phuket prior to 2020, it is hoping to attract more ‘high-end’ travelers. Namely, those who would not mind paying Western prices when visiting the traditionally cheap Southeast Asian hub.
The plan to introduce dual hotel rates has been confirmed by the Tourism Ministry, and it should be enacted soon:
Thailand Is Getting More And More Expensive By The Day
After sealing off its borders for tourism for the best part of the last two years, Thailand has had some time to decide what kind of tourist destination it wants to be in a post-Covid world. As expected, with each new announcement, Thai officials are moving further away from the mass tourism that threatened to overwhelm the country.
During the bygone, pre-pandemic era, Thailand was known as a safe haven for young travelers on a budget, but this could soon change. By introducing new tourist fees, closing access to popular beaches made famous by Hollywood movies, and now charging extra fees, the Southeast Asian giant is becoming a more expensive destination than it originally was.
As Thailand shyly reopened earlier this year, scrapping the Thailand Pass and making it a lot simpler to visit, it also slashed hotel prices in a clear attempt to attract more foreigners. This means that tourists returning to Thailand now that entry restrictions have been eased were able to benefit from far cheaper hotel rates.
However, now that some of their most important markets (e.g. Russia and China) will probably remain closed indefinitely, seriously hurting businesses, the generous policy may not be in place for much longer. After all, Thailand’s economy is struggling and in desperate need of the good old tourist dollar.
What’s Behind The Government’s Decision?
When it comes to hospitality, the Tourism Ministry will ask hotels to implement a ‘dual-tariff structure’ policy, requiring foreigners to be charged rates that are similar, or sometimes even more expensive, than 2019 levels, in order to ‘support a faster recovery of the industry’. The news were confirmed by government spokeswoman Traisureee Taisaranakul.
According to Mrs. Taisaranakul, ‘this is to maintain our standards of rates and services for foreign tourists, which affects the perception of (the country’s) tourism brand‘. At the same time, the Government does not want to punish a domestic public that is already suffering tremendously with the worldwide price hikes.
Like any other developing country, Thailand has experienced huge economic losses throughout the pandemic, including currency devaluation and a rollercoaster of price fluctuations. The announcement of new tourist fees is hardly news to get anyone excited, but looking at things from both sides of the story, some tourists may agree, while others may choose another country to visit altogether.
This Is Why You Shouldn’t Be Too Mad About It
The US dollar, the Euro and the British Pound are incredibly strong currencies – far more valuable than Thailand’s own Baht – and that usually translates into stronger purchasing power. Many of our readers may not know this, but visiting trendy islands such as Phuket can be easier to Americans and Europeans than it is to Thais.
Besides a weaker currency in general, the minimum wage in Thailand is roughly USD 194.84 per month, a negligible amount most solo travelers working remotely make in a day. Unless they come from more affluent backgrounds, or have saved enough Baht for a vacation, traveling can be extremely challenging for Thais in this crisis – even if it’s domestic travel.
That being said, it is understandable the Government is increasing foreign tourist expenses when the difference in purchasing power between the Thailand and other countries is colossal. The truth is: even though Thailand travel may no longer be super affordable as it once was, prices are still pretty decent compared to other major Asian hubs.
You may be able to get by earning $1000 a month in Bangkok, irrespective of new fees, but the same cannot be said about Singapore or Hong Kong. Additionally, while the new regulation isn’t passed, several Thai provinces like Bangkok, Phuket, Krabi and Koh Samui will probably continue offering sizable discounts to lure more guests.
As things could change at short notice, you are advised to book accommodation ASAP before fares rise. If you’re visiting Thailand soon, you can read all our updates and news stories about the country here, including the latest Covid entry requirements, mask rules that remain in place, and new direct flight routes being launched.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com