Thailand has a unique way of doing most things. Travel during the pandemic hasn’t been excluded, nor are plans for travel as the pandemic becomes endemic, and the country begins to welcome visitors back.
Most tourism dependent countries have launched campaigns to incentivize visitors to come back, such as Malta offering up to €200 just to visit, but Thailand has other ideas.
Starting in 2022, the Southeast Asian country will raise the visitor tax even more than previously expected, in hopes of effectively driving out backpacker and low economic value tourism. Thailand effectively wants fewer people, who spend more money.
Thailand’s New Visitor Tax For 2022
It’s never easy to say that something is “official” in Thailand, until you actually witness it with your own two eyes. Bills and laws can pass through countless committees and government bodies but still get quashed without notice.
With that said, Thailand will begin collecting a 500THB (about $15USD) tourism fee starting in 2022.
The new tourist fee was initially expected to cost 300THB per visitor, but Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) officials, in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism & Sports want an additional 200THB per visitor for “special projects”.
These projects are said to include anything that transforms the industry, or adds a sustainable “green” component to tourism. New Zealand, for its part, raised tourism related visitor fees recently, specifically to protect natural resources.
Thai tourism officials aren’t being coy about the intentions of the new visitor taxes, beyond the environmental concerns. They want to drive away low value tourism which doesn’t create enough revenue for locals and stakeholders to justify the impact.
“The additional cost won’t have an impact on tourists as we want to focus on the quality market,”Yuthasak Supasorn, Governor of the Thai Tourism Authority (TAT)
In other words, anyone Thailand wants to visit won’t be impacted by $15 in visitor fees.
According to the Bangkok Post, Mr. Yuthasak elaborated further on how the funds received from the new tax would shape Thai tourism. For now, the remarks are quite broad.
(The tax) will fund projects initiated by the private sector, community enterprises, or social enterprises that would like to transform their business to meet the fund’s strategy; helping the country restructure from mass tourism to high-value or a bio-, circular and green economic model; and environmentally concerned tourism.Yuthasak Supasorn, Governor of the Thai Tourism Authority (TAT)
The question for Thailand, is whether the new fee and associated hassles with extra paperwork and payment will send too many potential visitors elsewhere. The next question is whether the funds earmarked for positive tourism change will reach their intended destinations.
Starting in 2022, visitors to Thailand can more than likely expect a new fee to be passed onto their travels, and at this point very few details exist about how. It might be added to flight tax prices, be collected by hotels, or be required as part of a visitor visa.