The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted many popular tourist destinations, especially those suffering the effects of overtourism, to reassess how the sector is allowed to operate. It appears that Thailand, which has remained mostly closed to foreign visitors since March 2020, is one of them and is now looking to focus on the “quality market”.
The Thai Economic Situation Administration Center therefore approved a plan to implement a tourist tax of 500 baht (less than US $ 15) for a “tourism transformation fund”. According to the Bangkok Post, the country’s Ministry of Tourism and Sports would start collecting the new visitor fees next year and its budget would be based on a co-payment model.
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The National Tourism Policy Committee had already sanctioned the creation of this fund earlier in the year, proposing at the time a royalty of 300 baht per person (later increased to 500 baht), the proceeds of which would subsidize projects. aimed at transforming the tourism industry. .
Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), said the additional 200 baht would be funneled into projects initiated by the private sector or the community, to transform their operations to align with the direction strategy of the fund on a high and sustainable value. tourism. The government predicts the fund could generate 5 billion baht in 2022, assuming the country registers around 10 million foreign arrivals.
The additional capital is also intended to help the country restructure its mass tourism industry towards a high added value economic model and an environmentally conscious type of tourism. It is also intended to help finance budget insurance offers for foreign visitors and other development initiatives run by the government rather than the private sector.
“The projects should be co-creations and the government should use the fund to support projects that can create an economic impact. The ratio of public-private financial support could be 50:50, 60:40 or 70:30, depending on how we want these projects to happen, ”Supasorn said.
He said the fund was not intended to address financial losses suffered as a result of the pandemic, but rather to support long-term local economic growth.
“The additional cost will not impact tourists, as we want to focus on the quality market,” Yuthasak said. “We hope this fund will support a national tourism renovation by creating safer and cleaner places. “
After the approval of the program, the TAT, as well as the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, should determine with other sectoral authorities how the fund will be set up and how exactly it will operate. The same committee will also need to establish criteria to determine which projects will be eligible for funding.
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