Whilst international travelers arriving in Thailand at present are few and far between, those planning on visiting the Land of Smiles in the near future are to be forced to pay a tourist fee upon arrival.
The idea of countries implementing a fee or tax on foreign travelers is not a new one, with several countries imposing taxes or fees on tourists in one way or another, and has long been under consideration by the Thai government. As the idea goes through the process of becoming an official policy, here’s what we know about it so far.
How Will Travelers Be Affected?
Thailand has long discussed the notion of a tourist fee, as it looks to find alternative ways to fund the improvements of its infrastructure, facilities and security for tourists. There is a belief that a low fee would not discourage tourists from entering, whilst the current state of the infrastructure may actually put off travelers from making the trip to Thailand. By using a tourist fee to get the facilities up to scratch, it may have a positive impact in the long-term future of tourism in Thailand.
Today’s announcement confirmed the arrival of a policy that many expected to happen sooner or later. Thailand’s Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn announced that each international visitor to the country will have to pay 300 THB ($10 USD). It was also revealed that the fee was scheduled to come in effect last year, but the decision was postponed until this year.
The money generated from the tourist fee will go towards funding two different areas. One such area, which will be the most immediate benefit to those paying the fee, is for insurance for travelers who fall sick or get injured when in Thailand. According to the Ministry, it will ensure that they are taken care of and given adequate medical care. It is expected that 34 THB from the 300 THB total fee will go towards this insurance.
The other avenue that the money will go down will be to develop local destinations, helping to improve facilities and infrastructure in the places frequented by tourists, providing a long-term benefit to the fee. Further details will be published in the Royal Gazette once the policy takes effect.
How Much Will This Generate?
The idea of introducing a $10 tourist fee was seriously considered in 2016. Calculations at the time estimated that the country would have generated $380 million, or 12 billion THB – a serious amount of money that would go a long way to making improvements in the country.
Due to the pandemic, the current international tourist figures are much lower than Thailand has seen in recent times. After several years of setting new records, last year saw Thailand welcome only 6.7 million international travelers – a far cry from the near 40 million from 2019. However, the country has set a target of 10 million foreign visitors for 2021, meaning that should the tourist fee be written into policy in the near future, it could still generate a sizable income to help the ailing touristic economy.
Who Can Enter Thailand?
Thailand’s borders are currently open to international travelers, with the country recently widening its entry requirements to allow visa-free entry for many nationalities. Those hoping to enter Thailand must provide a negative-PCR test, before heading into mandatory quarantine once in Thailand. Whilst in Thailand, travelers must take three Covid-19 tests, and are free to travel once they have served their 14 days in quarantine.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories