Starting in April, Thailand plans to collect a 300 Baht (AU$12) fee from foreign tourists to develop attractions and cover accidents insurance for travellers unable to cover themselves.
One of Asia’s most popular travel destinations, Thailand has been hit hard by the pandemic, with around 200,000 arrivals last year, compared to nearly 40 million in 2019.
Thailand’s efforts to revive the travel sector have been hindered by the rapid global spread of the Omicron variant.
The tourism authority of Thailand, governor Yuthasak Supasorn recently told Reuters that part of this fee will be used to take care of travellers.
“We’ve encountered times when insurance didn’t have coverage for tourists … which became our burden to take care of them,” Supasorn said, adding that funds would also be used to upgrade tourism infrastructure.
The fee adds to a long list of requirements that Thailand currently has for entry into the country, which include pre-payment for COVID-19 tests, hotel accommodation or quarantine, and having insurance with COVID-19 treatment coverage of at least US$50,000 (AUD$69,393).
Thailand government spokesperson, Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana, said the new charge would be included in the airline tickets.
The strict quarantine measures in Thailand were waived in November in place of a “Test & Go” scheme for vaccinated visitors, but was suspended late last month over fears about the spread of Omicron.
Several ‘Sandbox’ schemes remain, with fully vaccinated visitors who meet testing criteria able to quarantine in certain hotels for a week before exploring the country.
Thailand recently extended the Sandbox to Krabi, Phang-Nga, and Surat Thani.
Thailand expects between 5 and 15 million foreign arrivals this year, depending on policies in place in its main tourism markets, according to Wangboonkongchana.
He also predicted that foreign tourists are expected to generate 800 billion baht (AUD$33.5bn) this year.