Covid expenses – not tourism fee – stopping people visiting Thailand
The low number of foreign travellers entering Thailand via the Sadao border checkpoint is due to the added expense of Covid-19 restrictions, not the planned tourist entry fee, the tourism minister says.
Songkhla tourism businesses have complained to the Tourism and Sports Ministry that tourist arrivals are far fewer than expected since the border with Malaysia reopened on April 1.
“Currently, a tourist from Malaysia must pay around 5,000-7,000 baht to enter Thailand via the Sadao checkpoint,” said Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn on Monday.
“This cost includes the one-time RT-PCR test in Thailand, the price for one night’s accommodation while waiting for the result, and Covid-19 insurance with minimum US$20,000 coverage.”
He added that many people mistakenly believed that travellers were avoiding Thailand because of the Bt300 tourist entry fee.
“This is not the case, as this fee has yet to be implemented,” said Phiphat.
Initially scheduled to kick in on April 1, the ministry has delayed the implementation of the “Kha Yeap Pan Din” or landing fee until June. Initially, the fee will only be applied to travellers arriving by air and be incorporated in the price of plane tickets. The ministry has yet to come up with a fee system for tourists arriving by land or water.
Twenty per cent of income from the fee will fund travel insurance for tourists, with 500,000-baht accident coverage and 1 million baht in case of death.
The remainder will fund development of tourist destinations plus a collection fee for airlines.
Phiphat said he will propose scrapping the Thailand Pass system to alleviate expenses that are deterring foreigners from visiting Songkhla and other places in Thailand.
Under the proposal, tourists would require only a vaccine certificate and ATK test.
“The ministry will propose the move after the Songkran holiday, possibly on April 22, provided that daily infections do not exceed 30,000 and the death rate is below 100 per day” said the minister.