Thailand looks to tourist tax for boost in post-pandemic recovery
Bangkok, Jan 17 (EFE).- Thailand is set to introduce a tourist tax on foreign visitors entering the country starting from April but the measure has drawn criticism from industry leaders who see it as an obstacle to rebuilding a sector severely damaged by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Under the new policy, foreign tourists will be asked to pay a tax of 300 baht ($9.10) upon entering the country.
Half of the money collected will be allocated to a tourism promotion fund, 20% to tourism insurance and the rest to companies created to monitor the new scheme, according to the tourism and sports ministry, which said the government had given the measure the go-ahead.
The government hopes to drum up 1.5 billion baht ($45.4 million) from an expected five million foreign visitors between April and September.
The tourism industry accounted for almost a fifth of Thailand’s annual GDP before the pandemic, but last year the number of visitors dropped from 39 million in 2019 to just 197,372 due to the pandemic.
Some tourism officials have criticized the tax proposals, however, arguing that it would only hinder the recovery of an all-important economic sector.
Boonanan Pattanasin, president of the Pattaya Business and Tourism Association, on Sunday said that while he was in favor of a tourism tax, now was not the right moment.
Opposition politician Pheu Thai said the policy was an unnecessary expenditure that could see tourists opt to visit Thailand’s neighbors instead.
Covid-19 cases have shot up in the country over the last two weeks from roughly 3,000 to 8,000 per day. EFE