Source: The Straits Times
Thailand will impose an entry fee on foreign holidaymakers from June as the tourism-reliant nation presses ahead with the long-delayed levy following a better-than-expected recovery in tourist arrivals.
Travelers flying into Thailand will have to pay 300 baht ($12) for each trip, while those entering via its land borders and seaports will be levied 150 baht each, Tourism Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn told reporters after the Cabinet approved the charges on Tuesday. The fees will come into effect from June, he said.
The government expects to collect about 3.9 billion baht in fees in 2023, and a part of this will be used to provide health and accidental insurance coverage for tourists during their stay in the country, he said.
The entry fee, widely criticized by the local tourism sector, comes as the Southeast Asian nation, famed for its Buddhist temples, beaches, and national parks, is witnessing a rush in tourist arrivals that has gained momentum with the abolition of pandemic-era curbs and China’s move to end its zero-Covid policy.
Foreign tourist arrivals may reach as high as 30 million in 2023, almost trebling from 11.2 million in 2022, according to some estimates.
Thailand has long mooted an entry fee for foreign travelers, but its implementation was delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
A part of the fee will help fund the development of local tourist attractions, Mr. Phiphat said. The levy will be added to air ticket prices, while the method of collection from entry by land has yet to be determined, the government said in 2022.
Mr. Wuthichai Luangamornlert, managing director of Siam Park City, operator of an amusement park in Bangkok, welcomed the move but added that “the collection of the fees and strict control of their use must be ensured to avoid any problems… in the future”.
Shares of some travel and tourism firms fell in Bangkok trading on the news. Aviation firm Airports of Thailand declined as much as 1.7 percent and an index of tour and leisure companies retreated as much as 1.6 percent, poised for its lowest close in a week.