Thailand is introducing a new tourist tax of 300 THB (AU$12) for all overseas visitors starting in April.
The tax was announced last week and will take effect after being published in Thailand’s Royal Gazette, the country’s national journal and newspaper of record.
Some of the tax money is allocated for overseas tourists who are unable to pay their healthcare bills; the rest will go towards the management of local tourist attractions. Travel insurance will not be replaced by the money set aside for medical expenses.
The pandemic has significantly impacted Thailand, which saw less than 200,000 visitors in 2020 compared to over 40 million expected in 2019.
In addition to pre-payment for COVID-19 testing, hotel accommodations or quarantine, and insurance with COVID-19 treatment coverage of at least US$50,000 (AUD 69,393), Thailand now has a long list of criteria for entry into the country.
According to a representative for the Thai government, airlines will have to add this additional fee to their fares.
Vaccinated travellers were exempt from Thailand’s severe quarantine restrictions in November in favour of the “Test & Go” programme, which was suspended late last month due to concerns about the spread of Omicron.
Visitors who are fully vaccinated and meet specific testing criteria can quarantine in certain hotels for up to a week before seeing the country as part of many “Sandbox” programmes that continue.
The spread of the Omicron variant has hampered Thailand’s efforts to revitalize the travel industry.
Thailand had long planned to levy a tourist tax on overseas visitors, but plans were put on hold as the destination was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana, secretary of the Ministry of Finance, Thailand expects between 5 and 15 million international visitors this year, depending on policies in place in its main tourism markets.
He also forecasted that international tourists would generate 800 billion baht (AUD 33.5 billion) this year.
If Thailand receives the projected number of tourists this year, the increased revenue from the new tourist tax would be approximately AU$180 million.
Thailand is currently open but requires a 14-day mandated quarantine with three COVID-19 tests over those two weeks. The country has seen an increase in COVID-19 cases, with daily active cases reaching a high of 7,133 on Jan. 11, according to worldometers. Still, it has been struck less severely when compared to other destinations.