Additional Thai tourist entry tax still under a cloud

Thailand’s new 300 baht entry tax is not yet fully sorted.

Tourist authorities are seeking to clarify the upcoming 300 baht fee on international visitors, but the issue remains murky. Permanent secretary Chote Trachu said the long-delayed 300 baht (US$10) tax would be added to the airfares of international travellers, both tourists and expats, from August or September this year, with exceptions for foreign infants, work permit holders, diplomats, Thai nationals and guest workers from bordering countries.

To achieve this complex result, the cooperation of airlines would be needed to integrate their websites with the Thailand Tourism Fee (TTF) system to screen which passengers are exempt. The final passenger manifest will have to be submitted to the data link shortly after take-off. Initially, the system will not include arrivals by sea or land as nobody has yet worked out how to charge 300 baht without huge queues forming at border crossings or even ports.

In reported remarks to the Bangkok Post, the tourism ministry said that the TTF system would automatically give 30 days insurance cover to new arrivals. Presumably this can only be for specified misfortunes, such as death, as no insurer could offer comprehensive treatment for such a small sum. How this fits in with the latest requirement which insists on minimum cover of US$10,000 Covid cover from May 1 is not addressed.

The 300 baht tax has a colorful history pre-dating the pandemic but successive starting dates have been put off again and again. It has always been a proposed tax to improve tourist infrastructure – repairing temples and building public loos have been specifically mentioned – with only 10 or 20 percent devoted to tourist insurance issues. What is obvious at this stage is that TTF is not a substitute for comprehensive health safety policies. Test runs with airlines begin next month.