Foreigners in Thailand have expressed mixed reactions to a government plan to collect a 300-baht tourism fee from April onwards.
On Wednesday, government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said a proposal to collect the fee from tourists under the Tourism and Sports Ministry’s tourism promotion plan is being considered.
Foreigners coming to Thailand via air would have to pay 300 baht each, a fee that would be included in their plane ticket. Tourists who enter the kingdom via land or sea would have to pay the fee to immigration officials at the border.
Mr Wangboonkongchana said the money will be used to develop tourist attractions, upgrade infrastructure and fund accident insurance initiatives for foreign visitors.
Thailand expects between 5-15 million foreign arrivals this year, bringing in about 800 billion baht.
Elza Phulumahuny, 46, a tourist from Indonesia, told the media that she understands well why the government wants to collect the money from tourists. However, she questioned whether the move would be transparent and if the money would be spent efficiently for the benefit of tourists.
She was spending only one week in the kingdom and would like the government to review the plan.
“It is not fair for all tourists to pay the same amount of money,” she said. “Short-term visitors who stay in Thailand for only two to three days should not pay that amount.”
Disha Chakma, 27, a teacher from Bangladesh, said she isn’t sure whether every tourist who gets injured in an accident in Thailand will benefit from the accident insurance scheme.
“No one can guarantee that we will not be asked to pay for medical treatment if we are injured in Thailand,” she said.
Philip Newman, a 38-year-old English national who has been in Thailand since last month, said: “The tourist charge appears to be a badly thought-out government policy with unanticipated and unpleasant implications.
“It’s uncertain whether the proceeds will get to the intended recipients,” he said. However, he said he would not mind paying the price.