DestinationsWill the Land of Smiles lose its lustre as a value destination if foreign visitors have to pay a tourism fee and higher hotel rate?

Visiting Thailand may soon become more expensive

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Thailand is set to impose the 300 baht (US$8.20) tourism on international arrivals.
Thailand is set to impose the 300 baht (US$8.20) tourism on international arrivals. Photo Credit: GettyImages/greenleaf123

Tourists visiting Thailand may soon find that the country a costlier destination with several new fees potentially required of foreign visitors in the works.

Thailand is set to impose the 300 baht (US$8.20) tourism on international arrivals, which was first proposed in 2021 although its implementation has been repeatedly pushed back. The fee will serve as insurance coverage of up to 500,000 baht per person in case of accidents and natural disasters.

The Thai Tourism and Sports Ministry revealed that the collection method and system for air arrivals is now ready to launch, while further studies will be conducted on fee collection for arrivals coming through land and sea. No date of implementation of the tourism fee has been announced though.

Dual hotel rates

In addition, Thailand also plans to introduce a dual-tariff structure for accommodation in the country - one rate that is similar to pre-Covid levels for the foreigner market, and a discounted rate for the domestic market.

At the same time, the authorities have urged hotels, businesses and private hospitals in the country to refrain from offering big discounts to woo tourists. and focus instead on raising the country's value as a premium travel destination.

Thailand has lifted all Covid-19 restrictions were lifted since 1 July, and visitor numbers have swiftly returned to the country since the pandemic entry requirements were progressively eased earlier this year.

It is projected that foreign tourist arrivals could reach 8 million this year after recording higher numbers over the past few months, according to the Bank of Thailand.

Keeping up the value

Travel agents urge the Thai authorities to convey the fee introduction message to foreign tourists with caution.

The tourist fee amount is "minimal", said David Kevan, partner at UK-based Chic Locations, who likens it to the price of a glass of house wine at most hotels.

Most tourists, with the exception of the low-end or backpacking segments, will already have taken out "fully comprehensive insurance so Thailand is essentially asking them to pay again for something they have already purchased".

If the Thai government is concerned about travellers entering the country without insurance, Kevan believes that showing proof of insurance as a required condition of entry would be a more viable system.

"Thailand has so much going for it, not least the incredible value for money once you have arrived. This is in contrast to many other countries who have hotel rates and incidentals based on US dollars.

"But it needs to be seen as being sensitive to overseas travellers and not take them for granted," he cautions.

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