Bill Heinecke suggests Thailand charge foreign tourists extra 300 baht per night

Hotels in Thailand should charge foreign tourists an extra 300 baht (US$8) per room per night to aid the economy’s post-pandemic recovery, suggests outspoken American-Thai hotel tycoon and billionaire Bill Heinecke. Heinecke is the founder of the Minor Group, which runs more than 500 hotels worldwide.

In an open letter addressed to Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, Heinecke said the extra pennies would…

“Help Thailand’s hospitality sector survive this difficult environment of depressed demand and rising costs.”

Heinecke said that hotels needed the extra money since the tourism industry is battling against high inflation, high costs of raw materials, and rising energy and fuel prices.

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The suggestion is similar to the controversial 300-baht “tourist tax” which has been in the pipeline in Thailand for a long time and is set to be introduced next year. The difference is that Heinecke’s idea is 300 baht per night, rather than a one-off entry fee, and the money would go straight into the pockets of hotel owners rather than the government.

It’s unlikely the government would implement both ideas, as even the tourist tax alone has spurred criticism that taxing tourists is not the right way to convince them to holiday in Thailand.

The billionaire is fond of writing advisory letters to PM Prayut. It’s unclear whether PM Prayut writes back, but he has never publicly acknowledged Heinecke’s suggestions.

In April, Heinecke wrote an open letter to General Prayut calling for an ease in Covid-19 restrictions to help the tourism industry get back on its feet.

He suggested Thailand remove Thailand Pass and Test & Go to lure tourists back to the kingdom. In the months to follow, both schemes were scrapped by the CCSA, and sure enough, tourists began trickling back into Thailand.

Heinecke’s call for an end to Covid-19 restrictions was quite the turnaround from a letter he wrote to PM Prayut in March 2020, in which he called for a full lockdown of the country to prevent transmission of the virus.

Tourists are returning slowly but surely, but still much more work needs to be done, said Heinecke in his most recent letter…

“While the goal to welcome over 10 million international tourists in 2022 poses a significant uptick year-on-year, it only amounts to a quarter of the 2019 level… Even projection in 2023 of 18 million is only 45% of pre-Covid.”

Thailand is set to surpass its goal of 10 million foreign arrivals before the end of the year, mostly thanks to Indian and Malaysian tourists.

Heinecke’s Minor International owns hotels in Thailand such as AVANI, NH Collection, Marriott, Four Seasons and Radisson Blu. The company also owns food companies in Thailand such as The Pizza Company, The Coffee Club, Swensen’s, Sizzler, Dairy Queen, Burger King and many more.

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Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.

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