An ever re-occurring topic was once again on the table of the Thai government: Charging Tourists an entry levy of several hundred (300) Thai Baht, this time under the disguise of “managing of local tourist destinations” whatever that means.
The 300 Baht Fee which has now been approved by the National Tourism Policy Committee will also include a laughable 35 Baht insurance premium (US$1) to provide health coverage for the visitor.
It really gets old to follow the ever repeating measures some people in the Thai government come up with as proposals and usually they get shot down in the end on the advise of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) because they would have an adverse effect.
Can anyone remember the exact same topic of a mandatory health insurance with 100 THB fee per tourist which came up in May of 2019? Or the same again in May of 2020 for fighting Covid-19?
Well this time the feed has actually been decided and approved at least in theory by a body called the National Tourism Policy Committee as the Bangkok Post reports today.
The National Tourism Policy Committee has approved the proposed guidelines for the collection of a 300-baht tourism fee from each international visitor for the management of local tourist destinations.
The money will also be used to provide insurance benefits to international tourists visiting the country.
Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said each foreign visitor will be charged US$10 (300 baht) per visit. The details of the fee collection will be announced in the Royal Gazette once the policy has taken effect.
According to Mr Phiphat, Thailand expects to receive some 10 million visitors this year. …
He said the merit of the 300-baht tourism fee is that foreign tourists who fall sick or are injured will be taken care of and given adequate medical care. … Of the 300-baht fee, 34 baht is expected to be used for the insurance coverage, Mr Phiphat said. …
The fee collection is in line with the revised National Tourism Policy Act, which authorises the ministry to impose a tourism fee for use in developing local destinations and providing insurance coverage to foreign tourists. …
Let’s be crystal clear about something: Thailand won’t see even a fraction of 10 Million foreign tourists this year (2021) and this charade of a US$1 health insurance is nothing else but a fraud. The statement alone shows how out of touch these people are with the reality.
Thailand is currently experiencing a resurgence of Covid-19 and has isolated pretty much all provinces from each other, meaning even Thai’s can’t travel to let’s say Phuket or Samui without a 14 day quarantine. Foreign arrivals are highly restricted and require a Certificate of Entry as well as a costly 14 days quarantine upon arrival. No vaccinations are planned for Thailand until the spring of this year. In essence: Tourism in Thailand is dead until the local population is immunized en masse and that won’t be in 2021 given the current schedule.
Now about this plan of the fee itself.
What kind of insurance coverage can you realistically provide for a buck? Are arriving passengers receiving an insurance certificate that allows them to claim the cost of their treatment at likely a government hospital with whatever entity underwrites the coverage? I think we all know the answer to that.
Those funds (even if ever collected) wouldn’t go anywhere near of “looking after tourists” considering the ever repeating gaffes by the government which in most recent times was most prominent for such as the racist remarks of the Thai Health Minister who we featured a few times in the past.
Paying 300 THB upon arrival sounds easy but it will actually prove to be a logistical nightmare to which everyone who knows Bangkok Airport can attest. Nobody will have Thai Baht in cash upon arrival, there aren’t even ATM’s – only cash exchange counters – and they can’t just tag it onto the ticket as that would impact all travelers, even transits with departures on a separate ticket and most importantly Thai citizens as well as Thai residents who have their own health insurance. Collecting cash will take forever. There are barely enough resources and spaces to process regular arrivals by simply stamping their passports.
The quality of insurance provided will likely be a complete joke and not cover anything worthwhile, especially not at a hospital where anyone with common sense would like to be treated, such as at Bangkok Hospital or BNH. It will most likely be for Thai Clinics and Government Hospitals. Obviously, what can you expect for a $1 premium?
It’s simply a cash grab! Through last years proposal a sum of 3.8 Billion Baht was expected to be taken in annually with a 100 THB levy. Now since we’re talking about 300 THB you can double triple that estimate in the future once tourists are in fact coming back. No chance for this year!
Thailand has tried many times to get this on the way as the number of tourists who allegedly don’t pay their medical bills (~20%) do present a problem. That being said there are plenty of foreigners who pay dearly (get ripped off) to hospitals for their treatments and one can argue the hospitals have already priced that in as any business does. Most tourists already have a proper travel insurance for medical costs so this whole theory of a health coverage and tourism management is nothing but a charade.
Whenever there is a shortage of money governments come up with a new tax and, as reasonable it is to eliminate medical debt of foreigners, an attempt such as this proposal to grab a 13 fold amount to make up for unpaid medical debt is simply without merit. While this tourism body has approved the fee I expect the Prime Minister or the cabinet to ultimately throw it out again as it’s completely impractical on any front.