The future of Thailand’s proposed THB 300 tourism fee remains in limbo. The recently elected government has been tasked with the decision-making process regarding this fee, the implementation of which remains vague and undefined.
The fee, approved by the former cabinet, stipulates a 300 Thai baht fee for air tourists, and a 150 Thai baht fee for those entering Thailand by land or sea. Despite receiving the green light in February, the initiative has not made its way into the Royal Gazette, and thus lacks a definitive timeline for rollout.
Yuthasak Supasorn, the Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, expressed that the project’s trajectory is heavily reliant on the incoming government, as definitive collection methods for the fee are yet to be established. A considerable amount of apprehension from the private sector has resulted in calls for a more flexible timeline, following the Tourism and Sports Ministry’s proposal of a June start date earlier this year.
The new administration is now at a crossroads, tasked with deciding whether to proceed with the fee, delay its implementation, or reevaluate its collection strategy. Supasorn advocated for a delay in fee collection until the tourism industry has bounced back fully, hinting at a 2024 start as the optimal time frame.
However, the situation is fraught with challenges. An anonymous government source revealed that during this period of change, government employees don’t have the power to start collecting these fees. There are also problems with how the fee is collected, which the new government needs to sort out.
The initial plan proposed incorporating the fee directly into airline tickets. However, airlines rebuffed this idea as untenable, leaving the ministry in search of a workable solution. Alternative suggestions included setting up automated kiosks at airports. But with the burgeoning number of daily arrivals, the fear of airport congestion, leading to tourist dissatisfaction, was a foreseeable roadblock.
Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, President of the Thai Hotels Association (THA), voiced a majority opinion of hoteliers favoring the delay of the project until next year when the industry is projected to stabilize. She insisted on the necessity of clear guidelines for fund management and emphasized the importance of being able to explain to visitors how their fees would be utilized.
In light of recent political developments, Nunbhakdi also touched on the issue of cannabis. Given that most hoteliers have not invested in cannabis businesses, she suggested that the memorandum of understanding signed by eight coalition parties to reinstate cannabis as a controlled substance would not affect them significantly.
As the new government continues its evaluation, the future of the THB 300 tourism fee hangs in the balance. With many aspects still to be decided, Thailand’s tourism industry and potential visitors alike are keenly awaiting clarity.
SOURCE: Bangkok Post
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