Thailand’s attempted reboot of tourism hasn’t quite been brilliant.
Perhaps the 31 initial steps proposed to obtain a visa, and 90 days of pre-paid accommodation also required were a bit off putting for some. Then it got a bit weird, with a Tinder partnership, and with few exceptions, has continued to be a struggle, despite the relaxing of international visa requirements.
The country is more open now than anyone realizes – heck, even Americans can go – but the 14 days of strict quarantine and continuous hoops have moved the country down a place or two on many bucket lists for the time being, with people favoring easier options. Now, a new move from TAT, the Tourism Authority of Thailand may dissuade people even more, but it could be a positive in disguise.
Thailand’s New 300 Baht Tourism Fee
Despite plummeting global demand, Thailand is adding a new fee for all tourist arrivals. The new 300 Thai Baht levy won’t break many banks, at a cost of just $10USD, but it sends an unfriendly message at a time many countries are eagerly attracting visitors with digital nomad visas, and other enticements, including waived visa fees.
It may also add some pre-travel paperwork to the equation, or extra hassle with a fee payable upon entry. Cash, or credit?
The 300 baht fee, which according to the Bangkok Post, has been approved by the National Tourism Policy Committee (NTPC), is said to support tourism infrastructure and provide health insurance for visitors. Yes, you read that correctly, circa $1 of the $10 fee will reportedly create adequate healthcare for visitors, though it’s unclear how this would work with any personal travel health insurance, or other coverage.
If true, rather than just “too good to be true” as it currently would appear, it would easily become the cheapest travel insurance in the world. Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, Thailand’s Sports and Tourism Minister, stated…
“The merit of the 300-baht tourism fee is that foreign tourists who fall sick or are injured will be taken care of and given adequate medical care”.Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, Sports & Tourism Minister of Thailand
Details of this policy will be critical as its officially introduced in the short term. If all visitors would genuinely receive top notch complimentary care, all from $1 out of their $10 entry fee, what’s perceived as a cheap money grab to shore up tourism losses in a desperate time may be wrong after all. It could actually become an attractive offer.
With 10 million visitors expected in 2021 by Thai Tourism Authorities – a figure which remains highly questionable – Thailand stands to make $100 million off the tourism fee annually. Not bad at all, for something created out of thin air.
Is this simply a new way to generate even more money from inbound visitors during a significant slow down, or a sustainable new measure which will help to restore traveler confidence amid growing health awareness, particularly in international travel?
One thing is for sure, the new fee is coming shortly. Whether travelers see any benefit remains to be seen. We’ll update this article with details of what travelers will actually receive from the new fee, once it hits the Thai Royal Gazette.