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Thailand plans to start 500 baht entry fee for foreigners

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The Thai government is considering a 500 baht entry fee for foreigners, but the feedback from the tourism sector is negative.

The Thai government is considering a 500 baht entry fee for foreigners, but the feedback from the tourism sector is negative. (Photo by Pornprom Satrabhaya)

Bangkok — The Thai government is considering charging foreign tourists a 500-baht (US$16) entry fee starting in January 2014, said Public Health Minister Pradit Sintavanarong.

He said officials from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, the Ministry of Public Health, and the Royal Thai Police had discussed the plan and all agreed with the idea.

They believe the extra charge would lead to an increase in the quality of tourists to Thailand, said Mr. Pradit.

“The tourism and sports minister (Somsak Phurisrisak) told me that every other country is collecting entry fees from foreigners,” he said.

“The money will be used for many purposes by the tourism, health and foreign affairs ministries, and the Immigration Bureau.”

He said the new entry fee is expected to take effect January 1, but might be put off until mid-January because the high number of tourists entering the country at that time could lead to confusion, according to a Bangkok Post report.

When the media asked him if the plan could backfire and result in fewer tourists, Mr. Pradit said the tourism ministry did not oppose the plan.

“Now is the time for us to have quality tourists. It’s not as if inbound tour operators won’t organise tours for foreign tourists to come to the country because of the entry fees,” he said.

He said foreign tourists who stay in Thailand no more than three days would be charged 30 baht (US$1) a day, while those who stay over three days will have to pay the 500 baht.
Foreigners who arrive at airports would be charged the 500 baht, while those who enter the country by land would be charged 30 baht per day, according to reports.

The plan is also intended to keep foreigners from staying in the country after their visas have expired. There are some 100,000 foreigners in Thailand whose visas have expired but they refuse to leave the country, say reports.

While the government claims the entry fee will keep out low-quality tourists, the feedback from the tourism sector appears to be all negative.

Samphan Panphat, adviser to the Thai Hotels Association, said he disagreed with the 500-baht entry fee because it lacked transparency and would significantly hurt hurt the tourism industry, and added that there are many foreign tourists who come here who do not cause problems.

Sitdiwat Cheevarattanaporn, chairman of the Association of Thai Travel Agents (Atta), also said it was not a good idea and not in line with the government’s plan to promote tourism.

“The plan will affect the tourism industry, both in the short run and the long run, because tourists will feel bad about Thailand and they may feel they are being cheated,” said Mr Sitdiwat.

Porntip Hirunket, vice chair of the Tourism Council of Thailand, said collecting entry fees from foreigners would dampen the tourist atmosphere.

Authorities should do a better job of screening tourists, enforcing the existing laws and preventing tourists from being conned, she said.

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  • Del 2111

    Why not promote the beautiful country you have. Thailand has lots of beautiful temples, beaches and countryside. In the UK all you see on television is the sex trade in Thailand, Ladyboys in Pattaya and Bamged up in Bangkok. If this is what people are going to see you will only be attracting the wrong type of tourist whether you have a tourist tax or not. Thailand should resell itself like Amsterdam did a few years ago, we don’t hear about the sex trade in Amsterdam now, we hear about the museums, the art galleries, the floating markets and the music.

  • Eric Tan Chee Han

    No doubt this will scare away some low budget traveler while retain those high budget ones, esp those from western countries … BUT get real, how much money Thailand make every year from SEA tourists? Also not to forget, annually a lot companies/corporate at SEA countries organize company trip to various places of Thailand. If this is implemented, you think this help in tourism? Thailand is a good place where the whole world love, please don’t do this.

  • Ansy

    We used to pay 500 baths for visa fee and I think it is a reasonable price.
    No discrimination so visa fee should be lowered to 500 from a thousand baths and all tourists from all countries have to pay this fee for fairness.
    Consequently, this problem should be resolved and hope there is a happy without burdening anyone

  • Ansy

    Thaksin has gone and her sister also should go and tourist should not be targeted in her corruptions

  • Ansy

    Departure tax of 700 baths has been added to every flight ticket and tourists need to pay never heard of withdrawal fee of 150 baths every time accessing Thailand’s ATM machines.
    What more do you want to rip us off, Thailand government
    Visa on arrival for a thousand baths just for 15 days is also a rip off.
    We are not trouble but instead support your tourism industry with our hard earned money.
    It does not imply we do not have any other option other than being only your tourists to be manipulated and ripped off for your prosperity. Instead we have a better, cheaper destinations than yours where we are not required to pay the departure tax, ATM withdrawal fee.
    Yes, I know your tone of asking us low stingy tourists in quality to visit there instead of your paradise. Sure, this also will assure you of the end of tourism boom in Thailand with your stone brain which is as intelligent as a mere scavenger.
    To restore the heath of Thailand tourism, remove the departure tax and ATM withdrawal fee instead.
    Remember a visa fee you collect is more that what Thailand is worthy of. If you need more money, collect visa fee from all nations but not the other way around please.

  • MJ Kong

    I go thailand and spend 25,000baht a week, and they want to charge this bullshit?

  • akula

    Good idea! Stay classy, Thailand :-)

  • Yoyo

    I don’t even think Thailand is a ‘good’ quality tourism spot to start off with. Dumb move.