Subject to Cabinet approval, Thailand will start collecting 300 THB from every foreign tourist who enters the country from June 1.
Speaking on Wednesday (Jan 11) Tourism Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said the money raised will go towards helping to develop and maintain tourist destinations, as well as contributing to a fund that will help support foreign tourists who are involved in accidents in Thailand.
Mr Phiphat said that 25 million foreign tourists are expected to visit Thailand in 2023.
“Fees won’t be collected from foreigners with work permits and border passes,” said Mr Phiphat.
Hua Hin Today notes that border passes are used by people mainly involved in cross border trade between Thailand and neighboring countries, namely Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia.
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Mr. Phiphat said that on January 24, the National Tourism Policy Committee (TTC) will discuss the collection of the 300 baht fee.
Following the TTC meeting, the proposal will be put before the Cabinet in February.
If approved, Thailand will start collecting the fee from June 1.
The entry fee, sometimes referred to as a ‘tourist tax’, was first proposed in January 2022 in its current form. However, it has repeatedly been postponed.
While Mr Phiphat did not go into detail about exactly how the fee will be collected from tourists, it is likely to be integrated into booking systems of airlines with tourists charged at the point of when they pay for a flight ticket.
What is for certain is that a ‘tourism fee’ of some description will be introduced. It is more a question of ‘when’, rather than ‘if’.
This is because there is a legal requirement for Thailand to implement the tourism fee and therefore the existing proposal can not be scrapped.
Speaking in September 2022, Mr Phipat said that the fee had already been approved by the previous government, forms part of the National Tourism Policy Act of 2019 and must be enforced.
The revenue generated from the fee will go towards a number of different uses, such as the upkeep of tourist sites, infrastructure and sustainable development, as well as going towards an insurance fund for foreign tourists.
The fund will help tourists in the event of an emergency, such as accidents, sudden sickness or death.
Between 2017-2019, the Thai government spent more than 700 million baht compensating the Public Health Ministry after uninsured foreign tourists had received medical treatment in Thailand but had left the country without paying their bills.
Previously, Mr Phipat said that a memorandum of understanding has been signed with Krung Thai Bank to implement a payment system to facilitate the collection of the fee and handle transactions via a website, smartphone application and via air ticketing systems.
Thailand is not alone in taxing international tourists.
Many countries around the world, including Switzerland, Japan, New Zealand, France, Spain, Germany, Portugal and Bali in Indonesia, as well as most Caribbean islands, have implemented some form of tourist tax.