The jury’s out on Thailand’s new 300-baht tourism fee, with foreigners expressing reservations about its introduction. The Thai government has confirmed that all overseas arrivals will have to pay the 300-baht levy from April. Speaking to the Bangkok Post, a number of foreigners have questioned how the money will be spent.
Government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana has previously stated that the fee will be used to develop and upgrade tourist attractions, creating disabled access and adding facilities such as public toilets. He says people flying into the kingdom will have the fee included in their airfare, while those coming by land or sea will have to hand over the dosh at the border. Thanakorn is optimistic about the revenue generated, predicting between 5 and 15 million foreign visitors this year, generating around 800 billion baht. He adds that the fee will also be used to fund insurance for tourists.
However, while they’re not going to have much choice in the matter, some foreign tourists have reservations about the tourism fee. Elza Phulumahuny, a 46-year-old visiting from Indonesia, shared her views with the Bangkok Post. She says she has doubts about the transparency of the process, questioning how the money will be spent in a way that benefits tourists. She has also criticised the fact that everyone, regardless how long their stay, must pay the same amount.
“It is not fair for all tourists to pay the same amount of money. Short-term visitors who stay in Thailand for only 2 to 3 days should not pay that amount.”
The Bangkok Post also spoke to a 27-year-old teacher from Bangladesh who’d like to know more about how the fee is supposed to fund insurance for tourists. Disha Chakma is not confident about the fund being available in the event of a tourist getting in an accident.
“No one can guarantee that we will not be asked to pay for medical treatment if we are injured in Thailand.”
Meanwhile, 38-year-old English teacher Philip Newman says he doesn’t particularly object to paying the fee but questions the thinking behind it. He too would like more information on where the money will go.
“The tourist charge appears to be a badly thought-out government policy with unanticipated and unpleasant implications. It’s uncertain whether the proceeds will get to the intended recipients.”
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SOURCE: Bangkok Post
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