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Thai government ditches proposed “tourist tax”

Suvarnabhumi Airport Bangkok

It’s going ahead, it’s not going ahead, it’s been postponed, it’s starting in six months… no, wait, it’s been dropped completely. The proposed arrival tax, that was never introduced, is now being cancelled. Forever.

The Thai government has finally made a decision on the so-called “tourist tax” and that decision is to forget about it. The 300 baht levy was originally proposed during the Covid-19 pandemic, with the idea that it would be collected from all foreign visitors arriving by land, sea, or air (although reduced to 150 baht for overland or sea arrivals).

Meanwhile, it was agreed that Thai citizens, diplomats, work permit holders, and children under the age of 2 would not have to pay the tax.

Initially the tax was proposed as a way to cover the medical costs of foreign tourists who injured themselves, fell ill, or even died while in Thailand. Then it emerged that only 10% of the pot would be spent on insurance for such events, if even that.

The fund then became about restoring and making repairs to popular tourist attractions, including temples and archaeological sites. There was talk of installing public toilets and disabled access entrances at such locations.

Meanwhile, the date for the tax to be implemented kept being pushed out. And out. And out some more…

Part of the problem was that nobody could decide how the tax would be collected. Airlines voiced their opposition to it being included in airfares, pointing out that they weren’t prepared to get into the nitty-gritty of who was supposed to pay it and who was exempt.

Then came the idea of installing payment booths at airports and land crossings. That idea was swiftly dropped due to the congestion it would inevitably cause. Suggestions of advance credit card payments and QR codes met a similar fate.

Tourism operators have long opposed the tax, saying it would create confusion and affect tourism in the kingdom. In the end, PM Srettha Thavisin has thrown his hands up and admitted the scheme is unworkable, describing it as “not worth the effort”.

And like that, it was gone.

A departure tax, paid as part of a passenger’s ‘fees and charges’ continues to be levied – currently at 700 baht. A few decades ago it was paid as a 500 baht cash fee paid on departure at Thai airport for international outbound flights.

SOURCE: The Pattaya Mail

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