The Tourism and Sports Ministry is poised to start collecting a 500-baht tourism fee for a “tourism transformation fund” next year, with the budget following a co-payment model.
The Centre for Economic Situation Administration last week approved the creation of the fund, which is expected to subsidise projects that transform the industry, focusing on high-value and sustainable tourism.
Yuthasak Supasorn, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) governor, said the fee collection of 500 baht per person should start next year, with the aim of collecting 5 billion within the first year, assuming 10 million foreign arrivals in 2022.
The National Tourism Policy Committee already gave the nod to start the fund earlier this year, with a proposed fee of 300 baht per person. Mr Yuthasak said the additional 200 baht will be earmarked for: projects initiated by the private sector, community enterprises, or social enterprises that would like to transform their business to meet the fund’s strategy; helping the country restructure from mass tourism to high-value or a bio-, circular and green economic model; and environmentally concerned tourism.
“The projects should be co-creations and the government should use the fund to support projects that can create an economic impact. The proportion of public-private financial support could be 50:50, 60:40 or 70:30, depending on how much we want to make those projects happen,” he said.
The fund is also meant to budget insurance and development projects for foreign visitors that require government initiatives rather than the private sector, including those needing matching grants from local administrations, said Mr Yuthasak.
After the concept is approved, the Tourism and Sports Ministry and TAT are required to have discussions with related authorities about setting up the fund committee and funding mechanisms, such as how to collect the fee from tourists, he said.
The committee must develop a criteria to determine which projects are eligible for financial support. “The additional cost won’t have an impact on tourists as we want to focus on the quality market,” said Mr Yuthasak.
“We hope this fund will support a national tourism makeover creating more safe and clean places.”
He said the fund’s objective is not to tackle the financial impact of the pandemic, but rather focus on long-term local economic growth.
Applying a tourism fee does not set Thailand apart from the many countries worldwide that apply a similar tax going towards protecting natural resources and maintaining tourism facilities. This is becoming more popular as a tool to battle the growing issue of over-tourism.
The imposition of this fee may end any argument supporting dual pricing of foreigners at tourist attractions, including examples of National Parks charging up to 10 times the entry costs to Thai people. Reports to date make no mention of this consideration.
For more information on this subject see: https://royalcoastreview.com/2021/05/thailands-300-thb-tourism-fee-whats-all-the-fuss-about/