By Alison Fox
Oct 18, 2021
THAILAND IS LOOKING to impose a tourist fee next year, intended to subsidize tourism-related projects.
The Bt500 fee (about US$14) will be for a “tourism transformation fund,” which will help the country’s industry shift from mass tourism as well as focus on things like eco-friendly tourism, the Bangkok Post reported. Yuthasak Supasorn, the Tourism Authority of Thailand governor, said the goal is to collect Bt5 billion in the first year.
“The projects should be co-creations and the government should use the fund to support projects that can create an economic impact,” Supasorn told the Bangkok Post, adding, “The additional cost won’t have an impact on tourists as we want to focus on the quality market… We hope this fund will support a national tourism makeover creating more safe and clean places.”
Since the first lockdowns of 2020 ground Thailand’s thriving tourism industry to a halt, the government has said it wanted to use the downtime as a “reset” period and, when reopening, target wealthier, higher-spending travelers, as opposed to mass-market group trips and backpackers.
The idea is that “high-quality” travelers would not be concerned about paying a fee to support a greener tourism infrastructure. It has yet to be determined how the new Thailand tourist fee will be collected. A committee must also determine how projects are deemed eligible for financial support.
The plan for next year comes as Thailand has been slowly reopening its borders to foreign tourists. As of this writing, fully vaccinated international arrivals may visit Phuket and Koh Samui without quarantine under seven-day “Sandbox” programs. Prime minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has announced that he would like to roll back quarantine mandates throughout Thailand in November for arrivals from certain countries and under new, more lax restrictions yet to be finalized.
At first, travelers were limited to the Phuket Sandbox program, the Samui Plus program on Koh Samui, Koh Tao and Koh Phangan, followed by the 7+7 Sandbox extension — all of which required for 14 days before traveling outside of these regions to elsewhere in Thailand.
For now, travelers who participate in one of the sandbox programs must secure a Certificate of Entry, obtain proof of insurance that would cover up to US$100,000 in potential Covid-19 treatments, pre-book a stay at an SHA Plus-certified hotel for at least seven nights, and book and prepay for all required on-the-ground testing. Travelers must also show proof of a negative Covid-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of their departure. Watch this space for news of easing of these rules in the coming weeks.
Thailand has also shortened quarantine requirements for fully-vaccinated travelers entering any part of the country to seven days.