Thai Tourism Operators Are Debating About 500 Baht Tourism Tax

Tourism operators are divided over a plan to impose a 500 baht “tourism tax” on foreign arrivals from next year. Nikkei Asia reports that some operators are concerned such a move could stifle tourism just as the country prepares to reopen. Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi is the president of the Thai Hotels Association.”The fee to be implemented is a considerable amount for those visiting Thailand, where hotel rooms can be found for as little as 1,000 baht. Potential visitors will rethink their travel plans due to this fee.”THA’s southern chapter’s Kongsak Khoopongsakorn agrees that the tourism industry needs the funds, but the government should pay for it, not tourists.”The fund will help our tourism industry grow sustainably in several ways. However, I don’t believe the funds should come from tourists.”The former chairman of the Tourism Council of Thailand, Chairat Trirattanajaraspon, says now is the right time to introduce a tourist tax as the sector recovers from the economic devastation caused by Covid-19.The Covid-19 pandemic has already indicated a clear need for the tax, and I think now would be a good time to implement it. It would be a very useful mechanism if we faced another crisis in the future to support the tourism industry.”The proposed fee was originally 300 baht, but it was raised to 500 baht earlier this month. It would replace the departure tax already imposed on departing passengers and would turn Thailand into an upscale destination for foreign tourists. The fee still needs Cabinet approval before it can take effect.It used to account for 20% of Thailand’s GDP before the Covid-19 pandemic decimated it. However, Thailand is now taking small steps to revive the industry, from sandbox schemes to quarantine-free entry for travelers from low-risk countries.

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