a large garden with Doi Inthanon and a bridge

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.

a row of gold statues in a temple

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 With Credit Card On Laptop

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.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. If it applies to connecting international flights, then I am avoiding Thailand.

    I am a single man and avoid Thailand for a vacation because I don’t want people to think I am a sex maniac who likes ladyboys, children, and female prostitutes. Sad but true.

  2. All gov do money grab in one form all another. They key is to make it easy on consumer to pay. I don’t like the idea to go to another website to pay it. Airlines should collect through the booking channels.

    It is besides the point who benefits. US security fee and facility fee created thousands of easy and relatively well paying jobs in TSA for high school graduates with no criminal record. Perhaps some of that $8 trickles down to Thais in similar fashion. Who cares about $8 when we spend thousands to get there and stay there.

    1. I think that’s mostly fair. The main thing is that they’re trying to invent the most cumbersome and complicated process possible, when an easy solution could/should exist. Even just removing from airline flow entirely.

  3. “that will remove customers from the airline website.”

    Since this would be a separate government controlled website, could Thailand be data mining the customers’ identifications and credit card data?

    1. That could clearly be the intention, much like many of the plays during Covid-19, but it’s a level I don’t think would easily, or quickly be adapted by operating or marketing airlines.

  4. Whoa! I’m going to be required to enter my credit card details into a Thai government run website? Sure, that sounds like fun. Nothing will go wrong.

    And I was looking forward to a few nights in Pattaya later in the year on my way to Oz.

  5. Unless you have a ‘no fee’ credit or debit card tourist’s are also going to get stung with bank charges

  6. jsm has an intriguing concept. Is this an easy way to compile data on customers?
    Could that result in potential criminal activity? Additional spam in your mailbox?
    I suspect this is just another half baked idea to generate some money.

  7. Considering it’s supposed to be a tourism fee, it sounds to me like non-tourist arrivals would get stuck with the tax as well — business arrivals, students, returning expats or residents.

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