THAILAND ‘tourist tax’ to come into effect next year
Starting next year, foreigners entering Thailand by plane will have to pay an “entry fee” of 300 baht. The “tourist tax” was originally intended to be imposed at the start of this year, but its implementation was delayed to give Thailand’s tourism industry a chance to recover from the pandemic.
The fee will be introduced “next year” – presumably January 1, 2023 – according to Thailand’s Minister of Tourism Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn.
Foreigners flying into Thailand are required to pay the entry fee, no matter their visa status. Any foreigners who are in the Kingdom of Thailand for less than 24 hours will be exempt from paying the fee, said the ministry. The fee equates to $US8.22.
Thai passport holders and Thai citizens will be exempt from the tourist tax. Foreigners who hold work permits, foreign diplomats, and infants under 2 years old will most likely be exempt from the tourist tax too, although this is yet to be confirmed by the ministry.
The Ministry of Tourism is still deciding whether the fee will apply to foreigners entering Thailand by land and sea but said it might not, or the fee might be reduced for land and sea arrivals.
How Thailand intends to use the collected “tourist tax” remains a bit of a mystery. The Ministry of Tourism says the tax will be spent on developing tourist attractions. However, the ministry also said the tax will act as accident insurance for tourists who get into trouble during their stay in the kingdom – but exact details about what kind of incidents are insured or how the insurance policy works have not been released yet.
The fee has been in the pipeline since 2020, but the idea has been met with some resistance from some parties, which could be another reason for its delayed implementation.
On Saturday, Hatyai Songkhla Hotels Association spoke out against the government-imposed tourist tax. Association President Sitthiphong Sitthiphatprapha said the fee will act as another obstacle for tourists, especially if the fee is applied to tourists entering Thailand from Malaysia via the land border.
The association is worried that tourists coming into southern Thailand via car, bus or train might only plan on staying in the kingdom for a few days and could be deterred by the cost.
The Ministry of Tourism appears to have considered this point and plans to impose the tax on foreigners arriving by plane only, although the exact details are not yet set in stone, said the ministry.