Thailand plans to charge foreign tourists 300 baht (about $9) from April in order to develop attractions and cover accident insurance costs for those unable to pay. Travel to Thailand, one of Asia’s most popular destinations, has been severely impacted by a pandemic-induced decline in tourism, which saw about 200,000 people visit last year, compared to nearly 40 million in 2019.
Covid-19 Omicron has rapidly spread around the globe, complicating efforts to revitalize the sector.
Tourism Authority of Thailand governor Yuthasak Supasorn told reporters that part of the fee would be used to care for tourists. There have been times when insurance didn’t cover tourists, so it became our responsibility to take care of them, he said, adding that funds would also be used to upgrade tourism infrastructure.
The application fee is part of a list of requirements for foreign tourists seeking entry into Thailand, which includes pre-payment for Covid-19 tests, hotel accommodations, and proof of covid-19 coverage of at least $50,000.
As of late last month, Thailand suspended its strict quarantine measures over concerns over the spread of the Omicron variant. The country had waived its strict quarantine measures in November in favor of a “Test & Go” policy for visitors who were vaccinated. According to government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana, the fee will be incorporated into the price of airline tickets and will be part of the government’s sustainable tourism plans.
It is expected that Thailand will receive between five and fifteen million visitors this year, depending on policies enacted in its main tourism market, Thanakorn said. According to him, foreign tourists will generate 800 billion Thai baht ($23.97 billion) this year.