The Thai Government has been playing around with the idea of implementing a controversial 300 Baht tourism tax for years, and it just received new focus after the deadly mass shooting at Siam Paragon shopping mall last week as questions arose about how to compensate the victims.
Last week, a 14-year-old boy fatally shot two people (both of whom were foreigners) and critically injured several others inside the Siam Paragon shopping mall.
In the past, there has been a so-called Tourism Assistance Fund, which was dissolved by the previous government last year as it was found not to be in keeping with performance evaluation goals demanded by the ministry.
In light of this, Siam Paragon (Mall Group) has agreed to pay compensation in the sum of five million Thai Baht to each of the deceased victim’s families as well as 300,000 Baht to each injured victim. In years past, the assistance fund has compensated tourists who were victims of violence, for example, during the 2015 bombings that took place near Siam Paragon at the Erawan Shrine (in front of Grand Hyatt Erawan, which also sustained damages from the blast).
As a snowball effect of this current situation, the 300 Baht Tourism fee which we reported on over the years, has come back into focus, and the ministry has vowed to fast-track this measure (haven’t we heard that before?).
A story highlighting this measure was published in the Thai Examiner this week.
New foreign tourism levy to be paid on arrival at kiosks at Immigration Bureau points of entry, including at airports after landing. The fee will also be delivered via a website or smartphone app, said the Ministry of Tourism and Sports in the latest update on a proposal that has been up in the air for decades but has yet to be implemented by successive Thai governments.
The Tourism Ministry and the Siam Paragon Shopping Centre came forward this week to compensate the families of the two women murdered during Tuesday’s mass shooting in Bangkok after the government admitted that the Tourism Assistance Fund to compensate tourists involved in emergencies in Thailand had recently been cancelled by officials in an efficiency drive. The Tourism Minister, Ms Sudawan Wang-Suphakitkosol, promised to fast-track the introduction of the long-awaited foreign tourism entry fee, which the ministry now proposes will be paid by travellers on arrival at entry points to the kingdom, providing emergency medical health insurance cover and other benefits for 30 days from the point of entry. …
The assurance came as it was revealed that the previous government had cancelled a compensation fund which would have paid out ฿1 million in the event of the death of a foreign tourist from a special assistance provision.
This fund was dissolved by the government last year as it was found not to be in keeping with performance evaluation goals demanded by the ministry, and given the pending tourism fee, which includes the automatic fund, accounting for ฿70 out of the ฿300 cost, for insuring foreign tourists.
The government admitted this week that the Foreign Tourist Assistance Fund had been dissolved and no alternative funding source put in place.
In the meantime, on Wednesday, a spokesperson for the Tourism and Sports Ministry made it clear that the government would pay compensation to the tourists murdered and those injured during last Tuesday afternoon’s horrific shooting incident at the Siam Paragon Shopping Centre in the Pathum Wan area of Bangkok. …
The tourism fee or levy has been a long-running problem for successive Thai governments.
Indeed it has. Just LoyaltyLobby alone has reported on the ever-reoccurring topic of the tourism fee for over eight years now. It has been an ongoing clown show and the sticking point isn’t the fee itself (by the way, travelers already pay a 700 Baht departure fee which is nowadays included in the airline ticket) but rather the collection method. Airlines want nothing to do with this fee and the government hasn’t figured out yet how to implement an efficient collection method.
The Minister of Tourism and Sports, Ms Sudawan Wang-Suphakitkosol, on Thursday, gave a commitment that the government’s incoming tourist fee scheme, which will provide automatic insurance to all tourists entering the country for a 30 day period after their arrival at immigration checkpoints would be implemented by the current government.
Tourism fee or levy is a long-running story of a proposal that has managed to elude implementation by successive governments over the last two decades. …
The plan to have this fee collected by airlines transporting incoming passengers was reportedly met with behind-the-scenes pushback from the airline industry and is also thought to have damaged relations and confidence between the government by powerful large carriers who make decisions that impact Thailand’s international flight connectivity.
The new system for the proposed tourism fee will impose a duty on tourists to pay the fee themselves.
The fee will be paid on arrival via a website, an app or kiosks at the country’s international airports, land borders and checkpoints.
The tourism fee is supported broadly by the tourism industry as its tourist insurance fund is considered an essential step forward given the repeated stories of tragedies, accidents, and personal disasters which occur every year.
Such stories have generated thousands of news reports which have reached hundreds of millions of foreign tourists and have painted a picture of Thailand as a dangerous destination.
This would be avoided with a common tourism insurance fund. …
I don’t think I’d agree with the conclusion as far as the result of implementing the tourism fee would be more positive publicity. Do you believe for a moment just because there is some sort of mediocre health coverage, the press would report more favorably about tragedies that unfold in Thailand?
In this particular case, people died in a mass shooting at one of the country’s most prestigious shopping malls. I think the matter of insurance coverage is secondary here and not initially on anyone’s mind.
The idea of the new Tourism Minister to let people prepay the fee online and then simply present receipts with a QR code is something I have suggested in the past. Setting up kiosks or cash counters as the only option to pay would be a complete disaster considering the mess that Bangkok Airport already is during peak arrival times.
The last time this was publicly discussed was back in June:
The notion that the cash would be exclusively used to provide coverage for foreign tourists is a joke. I’m 100% convinced that the hospitals will still try to rip people off and not provide treatment for free. And I can already promise our readers that should this fee be rolled out at some point, I’ll go to a designated hospital and test this.
The 300 Baht Tourism tax that was supposed to be charged from June 2023 for all foreign arrivals in Thailand has once again been postponed until a new government is in place. As I predicted, I can’t imagine a new progressive government with practical thinking being on board with making the airport into a mess by collecting cash or facilitating card payments, adding a minute or more to each person’s processing.
The new tourism minister has now floated the idea of fast-tracking the implementation of the fee and also offering electronic payment methods so that no extra steps are required upon arrival that would slow down the entire flow.
I think this is a good and fair idea IF they have to introduce this fee. I’m still skeptical that the funds are being properly used to the benefit of tourism, let alone provide useful health coverage for tourists. Very curious how this will turn out, expect a detailed report of my experiences at Bangkok hospitals!