BANGKOK – Thailand’s Tourism and Sports Ministry has decided to delay plans to collect a tourism levy from foreign visitors.
Permanent tourism secretary Chote Trachu said the levy could result in psychological deterrence among foreign visitors. Bringing further harm to the already struggling tourism industry.
In May, Mr Chote announced that the Tourism Ministry was studying the idea of collecting a tourism levy from foreigners. The ministry intend to use the generated income to rehabilitate natural tourist destinations.
He hinted that the tax amount would be minimal and not affect visitors.
“We won’t implement a tourist levy this year, as it could worsen Thai tourism. Especially when the baht is so strong,” Mr Chote said.
He is convinced that tourist arrivals during the last four months of the year will accelerate. Pushing the total to 40-41 million baht as projected.
Kampon Adireksombat, of Siam Commercial Bank, said that apart from the strong baht, tourism will feel the pinch from the escalating US-China trade war. Which has now developed into a currency war, with Beijing accused of currency manipulation.
The situation’s adverse impacts have crept into local tourism and the economy.
Mr Kampon said GDP in the second quarter stood at 2.3%, the lowest point in the past five years.
The strong baht has caused Chinese tourist numbers to fall by 3.3% in the first seven months this year.
Mr Kampon said the changes in Chinese behavior came about from economic factors. Chinese are visiting closer destinations such as Hong Kong, Macau and Cambodia for its low costs.
“But the unrest in Hong Kong may bring about a tourist windfall for Thailand,” he said. The Hong Kong protests has been driving investment money out of the city and into Thailand.