The COVID-19 pandemic has caused several prominent tourist sites, particularly those suffering from overtourism, to reconsider how the industry is allowed to operate. Thailand, which has been mostly closed to foreign visitors since March 2020, appears to be one of them, with plans to focus on the “quality market” from now on.
As a result, Thailand’s Center for Economic Situation Administration has approved a plan to levy a 500-baht (less than $15) tourist tax to fund a “tourism reform fund.” The nation’s Tourism and Sports Ministry will begin collecting the new tourist charge next year, according to the Bangkok Post, and its budget will be based on a co-payment basis.
The National Tourism Policy Committee had already approved the fund’s creation earlier this year, suggesting a 300-baht levy per person (later hiked to 500 baht), with the earnings going to projects aimed at changing the tourism industry.
The additional 200 baht would be channeled into projects initiated by the private sector or community to reform their operations to fit with the fund’s strategic focus on high-value and sustainable tourism, according to Yuthasak Supasorn, Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). The government estimates that the fund will generate 5 billion baht by 2022 if the country receives roughly 10 million foreign visitors.
The extra funds will also be used to assist the country in reshaping its tourism business from mass tourism to a high-value economic model that is environmentally conscious. It’s also intended to assist fund budget insurance for foreign visitors and other government-led development programs rather than private-sector ones.
“The additional cost won’t have an impact on tourists, as we want to focus on the quality market,” said Mr. Yuthasak. “We hope this fund will support a national tourism makeover creating more safe and clean places.”
Following approval of the scheme, TAT, along with the Tourism and Sports Ministry, must with other sector authorities to determine how the fund will be set up and exactly how it will operate. The same committee will also need to set criteria as to which projects will be eligible for funding.