Tourists heading to Thailand this year will need to factor an additional entry fee of 300 THB (INR 665) into their budgets. This new rule will come into effect in April this year and intends to help the tourism sector recover from the effects of the pandemic. By Eshita Srinivas
Thailand welcomes a throng of visitors every year, who head to the country for a postcard-perfect tropical vacation. The pandemic, however, cast a dark shadow over the tourism industry in the region, with only 20,00,000 arrivals last year, as compared to 40 million (4 crores) in 2019. The South-East Asian country has, hence, been juggling with various plans to revive travel in the country, which have been complicated further by stringent COVID-19 restrictions across the world. In the latest update to this, the Thai government has announced that it intends to start collecting an entry fee of 300 THB (INR 665) from all foreign tourists starting April 2022.
The entry fee will develop Thailand’s local attractions and provide insurance to foreigners
This fee, which is a part of the government’s “amazing Thailand new chapter” plan, will be used to develop popular tourist attractions. In addition to this, the fee will go towards accident or death insurance for tourists who are unable to pay costs themselves, with a maximum insurance payout of 1 million THB (INR 22 lakh approximately) and 500,000 THB (INR 10 lakh approximately) for medical expenses. In a report by Reuters, the governor of Tourism Authority of Thailand Yuthasak Supasorn further explained the new rule stating, “We’ve encountered times when insurance didn’t have coverage for tourists … which became our burden to take care of them.”
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This fee had long been in discussions but could not be implemented due to the spread of the Omicron variant. Charges will be included in the air fares of travellers and the means for collecting it from those entering by land has not yet been determined. Other charges that are included in the list of requirements for tourists seeking to enter the country include pre-payment for COVID-19 tests, hotel accommodation or quarantine expenses, and having insurance with the COVID-19 treatment plan of at least USD 50,000 (INR 36 lakh approximately). Thailand expects up to 15 million (150 lakh) foreign arrivals this year, according to a report by Bangkok Post.
The “Land of Smiles” only recently added more tourist destinations to the Phuket Sandbox program in a bid to keep the industry afloat. Under the program, fully vaccinated travellers need to spend seven nights in the sandbox area, post which, they are free to move anywhere across the country, provided they have tested negative for COVID-19.