It’s been a thrilling spring for travelers hoping to visit Asia and Pacific again. With the exception of Japan, most major countries, including Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia have reopened to visitors. Even Australia and New Zealand are open.
Going further, most countries have now also dropped travel testing requirements.
But just as the good news rolls, Thailand — being Thailand — has decided to bring up a new fee it’s intended to launch for years, which may complicate travel all over again.
A season of hit show ‘Succession’ or theatrical display of Macbeth wouldn’t hold a candle to Thailand’s reopening of tourism. From the start, it’s been marred by oddball twists and turns, many of which could’ve only made sense to financial stakeholders or those disconnected from reality.
Despite Thailand’s extremely positive developments in recent months, officials have confirmed plans to add a small, but annoying new tourism fee, the details of which raise more questions than answers.
With slumping tourism figures, it’s sure to make a shaky tourism reopening even more unstable.
Thailand To Launch 300 THB Visitor Fee
It’s not at all out of place, or unexpected for countries to launch visitor fees in this day and age. Whether in the name of sustainability, or because others have imposed fees on their citizens already, it’s a great money grab which can do good for a country.
New Zealand recently launched its ETA tourism fee aimed at sustainability to offset the environmental impacts of visitors, and Europe will launch its own ETIAS visitor fee in 2023 to provide a “better” preventative security system. The United States famously has the ESTA.
Thailand’s 300THB fee, which is between $8-$9USD in current currency exchange is in line with the others, but the reasons and justifications have simply been bizarre.
One of the purported reasons for the new fee is to cover healthcare for visitors. Yet when diving into the actual proposed breakdowns, the vast majority of money would go to opaque causes ripe for enrichment of a select few, while just $1.50 would go to providing health services for visitors.
If $1.50 is all it takes to provide hospital and health care for visitors, health officials and insurance brokers from all over the globe will be flocking to Thailand to learn how.
Paying The Fee Sounds Odd
When passenger buy an airline ticket, a myriad of fees are already lumped in to make things easy. When you fly to the US, taxes and fees for passenger processing, security and other features are built into the airline price.
Thailand being Thailand, the country at least appears to have a different idea.
According to Mongkon Wimonrat, a Minister for the Government of Thailand, all airlines hoping to serve Thailand will be forced to introduce a dedicated, separate web page into the booking flow that will remove customers from the airline website.
When passengers book flights, they’ll be redirected to a Thai Government website to collect the 300THB fee. They’ll then need to print out proof that the fee has been paid and present it on arrival. It’s unclear whether the fee will replace current requirements to provide health coverage for the trip.
Why just embed a fee into the price of a ticket and seamlessly know every visitor has paid the fee, when you can require airlines to hard code a redirect process, set up your own payment system, require visitors to print out forms, and then scan those forms?
When Will The 300THB Fee Kick In?
Thailand and timelines are complicated bedfellows with complicated history. These fees were initially proposed in January of 2022 with a planned introduction expected to already be introduced.
That obviously didn’t happen. According to the Government of Thailand, the new fees will kick in between August and September. As noted, timing isn’t often precise with these lightbulb ideas.
But, from either August or September, expect to see a new form and new fee to pay, before you arrive in the country.