Thailand travel tax. Good idea but…

by Don Ross –

“The changes to the law came into effect on May 20. Now, the panic button has been pressed. A workable package and collection process needs to be hammered out and fast.”

Thailand is looking to introduce a tourist tax, either on arrival or departure, that will be, according to officials, used to fund accident insurance and finance restoration of tourist attractions and the environment. Well that’s the theory. Don Ross from says it’s a great idea but is wary of the implementation…

Read the original Thiager article about the proposed Tourist Tax HERE.

A talking topic for years, this time round some progress has been achieved. New legislation written in the Tourism Act allows the Ministry of Tourism and Sports to collect and manage the levy and the start-up date is 1 October (start of the government’s fiscal year).

As for the challenges, the government and research partner, Naresuan University, has just six months to conduct a survey and put in place a mechanism to collect the tax.

Naresuan’s survey team will have to check out all the worldwide examples of successful travel tax schemes. There are hundreds and they all have various objectives from fighting ‘overtourism’ to simply lining the pockets of a territory’s ruler.

Take your pick from the selection and then give it a local twist to please the electorate such as suggesting the funds will save the environment and critics are likely to be silenced.

The guessing game on the actual levy is hovering optimistically over the 100 baht fee button, paid by all tourists entering the country. A ballpark estimate says that would reap 3,800 million baht for the ministry coffers.

The problem with that simple equation is the credibility of the count. Are there really 38 million tourists, or do we mean a head count at the turnstile?

If it is the latter there could be calls for politically correct exceptions. For starters do we really want to take 100 baht every time a Lao trader crosses the border to sell their wares in Thailand?

Then there are the thousands of foreigners who work in Thailand or stay on retirement or other long-stay visas. They are also required to cough up proof of expensive insurance cover so would they be exempt?

The complications are many and not least the collection process emerges as one potential headache.

If you’d like to read the rest of the article, click HERE.

PHOTO: The Jakarta Post

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