BANGKOK – Thailand’s Tourism and Sports Ministry is considering the possibility of imposing a levy on Tourists to use for improving local attractions and insurance coverage for foreign visitors.
The ministry floated the initiative after the National Tourism Policy Act was enacted and published in the Royal Gazette on Wednesday.
Some of the clauses in the law entitle the ministry to outline strategic tourism development plans and set out tourism standards and measures to ensure safety.
Chote Trachu, the tourism permanent secretary, said the ministry is in talks with Naresuan University and the Office of Insurance Commission for further study of the tourism tax and will carefully find the proper solution that will have a minimal impact on the country’s tourism.
The ministry will raise the issue for brainstorming sessions among tourism stakeholders before deciding on a final plan, Mr Chote said at a forum on Thursday.
The study is likely to take six months to complete, he said. The study will attempt to determine an appropriate fee and where to collect the sum.
The study will also include the environmental impact of excessive visitors on popular tourism destinations and whether a limit in the number of visitors at some venues is possible in order to promote sustainable tourism in the long run.
Tourism has been an economic driver for Thailand over the past decade. Last year the country welcomed over 38 million arrivals, contributing more than 2 trillion baht of income. Combined with domestic travel, tourism receipts were 3 trillion baht in 2018.
This year the ministry expects 41 million arrivals, generating 2.2 trillion baht.
Mr Chote told the Bangkok Post that Thailand is responsible for some 300 million baht in tourist medical expenses every year.
He said the tourism levy will not only prevent tourists from unpredictable situations and raise their confidence, but also reduce medical expenses for the state.
But the priority of the levy is to rehabilitate tourism sites across the country. Part of the funds will also be used to improve infrastructure to facilitate tourists, such as a yacht port for tourists from Europe who travel by sea to drive tourism development in the South.
Several countries have put in place a tourism levy, aiming to use the funds to improve local destinations.
Japan earlier this year imposed a ¥1,000 “sayonara” levy, while Malaysia recently started charging a departure tax of US$5 for tourists from Asean countries and $10 for international tourists.
By Dusida Worrachaddejchai