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Thailand mulls charging tourists to enter the country

October 23, 2013 Destination Thailand, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Thailand, the world’s number-one country for tourism, is considering a plan to charge foreign tourists an entry fee from next January in a bid to improve the quality of arrivals.

The first nine months of this year saw 19.67 million international tourists visit Thailand.

Thailand’s Public Health Minister Pradit Sintavanarong said at the weekend a fee of THB 500 (AUD 16.63) was under consideration.

He said officials from the Thai Ministry of Tourism and Sports, the Ministry of Public Health and the Royal Thai Police all agreed with the proposal, the250x250 Bangkok Post reported.

The charge could improve the quality of tourists entering Thailand by deterring those at the lowest level, they considered.

The concept is to charge foreign tourists who arrive by air a one-off fee of THB 500, and those who arrive by land THB 30 (AUD 1) a day. The scheme would help deter foreigners from staying in the country after their visas expire, proponents argue. Some 100,000 foreigners are reported to fall into that category.

Pradit said the tourism and sports minister (Somsak Phurisrisak) had told him that “every other country is collecting entry fees from foreigners”.

Feedback from Thailand’s tourism sector, however, has been negative. Many in the industry feel that a fee could be detrimental. Samphan Panphat, adviser to the Thai Hotels Association (THA), said he disagreed with the THB 500 entry fee, the Bangkok Post reported. He felt it lacked transparency and would significantly hurt the tourism industry.

Sitdiwat Cheevarattanaporn, chairman of the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA) felt similarly, as did Porntip Hirunket, vice chair of the Tourism Council of Thailand.

The proposal faces considerable opposition.

Written by : Peter Needham

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