New foreign tourism levy to be paid on arrival at kiosks at Immigration Bureau points of entry, including at airports after landing. The fee will also be delivered via a website or smartphone app, said the Ministry of Tourism and Sports in the latest update on a proposal that has been up in the air for decades but has yet to be implemented by successive Thai governments.
The Tourism Ministry and the Siam Paragon Shopping Centre came forward this week to compensate the families of the two women murdered during Tuesday’s mass shooting in Bangkok after the government admitted that the Tourism Assistance Fund to compensate tourists involved in emergencies in Thailand had recently been cancelled by officials in an efficiency drive. The Tourism Minister, Ms Sudawan Wang-Suphakitkosol, promised to fast-track the introduction of the long-awaited foreign tourism entry fee, which the ministry now proposes will be paid by travellers on arrival at entry points to the kingdom, providing emergency medical health insurance cover and other benefits for 30 days from the point of entry.
The Minister of Tourism and Sports, Ms Sudawan Wang-Suphakitkosol, on Thursday, gave a commitment that the government’s incoming tourist fee scheme, which will provide automatic insurance to all tourists entering the country for a 30 day period after their arrival at immigration checkpoints would be implemented by the current government.
The assurance came as it was revealed that the previous government had cancelled a compensation fund which would have paid out ฿1 million in the event of the death of a foreign tourist from a special assistance provision.
Tourism Assistance Fund dissolved by last government in a push to introduce performance evaluation on spending, compensation is to be paid.
This fund was dissolved by the government last year as it was found not to be in keeping with performance evaluation goals demanded by the ministry, and given the pending tourism fee, which includes the automatic fund, accounting for ฿70 out of the ฿300 cost, for insuring foreign tourists.
The government admitted this week that the Foreign Tourist Assistance Fund had been dissolved and no alternative funding source put in place.
In the meantime, on Wednesday, a spokesperson for the Tourism and Sports Ministry made it clear that the government would pay compensation to the tourists murdered and those injured during last Tuesday afternoon’s horrific shooting incident at the Siam Paragon Shopping Centre in the Pathum Wan area of Bangkok.
Sometime after 4.20 pm on Tuesday, a 14-year-old private school student, reportedly suffering from a mental illness, fatally shot two women and five others with a re-engineered prop gun he had bought online.
Tourism fee or levy is a long-running story of a proposal that has managed to elude implementation by successive governments over the last two decades
The tourism fee or levy has been a long-running problem for successive Thai governments.
It has been abandoned, reintroduced and postponed in a history of about turns and glitches reported at length over the last two decades, with officials often responding to fears raised that the small fee will negatively impact efforts to boost tourism numbers despite the current initiative being supported strongly by the tourism industry because of the insurance cover it will introduce.
Tourism boss calls for special state body to manage the new foreign tourism levy postponed yet again
The problem outlined by a spokesman for the Ministry of Tourism on Wednesday is that the Ministry is still finalising the collection method for the fee which the last government proposed should be by incoming airlines flying into the country.
Plan to have airlines collect the fee appears to have been shelved by the government as Thailand tries to boost flight connectivity back to 2019 levels
This was reportedly met with behind-the-scenes pushback from the airline industry and is also thought to have damaged relations and confidence between the government by powerful large carriers who make decisions which impact Thailand’s international flight connectivity.
Tourism industry leaders, including the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), accept that Thailand critically needs flight connectivity to boost its foreign tourism recovery, with a lack of flights and consequently higher fares to land at the country’s international airports being identified as one of the leading factors as to why the kingdom’s recovery, unlike other large tourism industries such as the Spanish, Italian and Greek sectors, has failed to recover to its 2019 levels.
This year, it is only expected to achieve 60% of the income seen in 2019 at ฿1.25 trillion.
Senior government officials and the industry admit the need to boost flight connectivity.
This shortfall is being addressed by Thailand’s own recovering airline industry, which is asking for support from the government.
Tourism Fee to paid in cash or via a website, apps and kiosks located at entry points to the kingdom under the latest proposal from the ministry
The new system for the proposed tourism fee will impose a duty on tourists to pay the fee themselves.
The fee will be paid on arrival via a website, an app or kiosks at the country’s international airports, land borders and checkpoints.
The tourism fee is supported broadly by the tourism industry as its tourist insurance fund is considered an essential step forward given the repeated stories of tragedies, accidents, and personal disasters which occur every year.
These have led to private fundraising schemes generating extremely negative publicity as they show foreign tourists from countries across the world stranded in Thailand.
The crisis stories often portray holidaymakers suffering injuries that often threaten their lives while facing unexpected financial costs.
Such stories have generated thousands of news reports which have reached hundreds of millions of foreign tourists and have painted a picture of Thailand as a dangerous destination.
This would be avoided with a common tourism insurance fund.
Thai Hotels Association President supports fast-tracking of the new foreign tourism levy to provide automatic insurance cover to travellers
One of the supporters of the insurance fund is Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, the President of the Thai Hotels Association, who is calling on the government to finally complete the tourism fee initiative with the tourist fund to restore confidence in the industry abroad.
Ms Marisa also told the media that the shooting of the 34-year-old Thai-Chinese mother of twin daughters, Zhao Jinnan, while on holiday in Thailand had generated a wave of negative publicity in China, particularly after her niece, 16-year-old Chloe Wan published the story on microblogging site Weibo in recent days, showing photographs of one of the little girls with blood-covered clothing and a blood-spattered carrier bag.
The tourism industry leader said that hotels in Bangkok had already received cancellations from China because of the outrage.
On Wednesday, Tourism Minister Ms Sudawan spoke of discussions between the Digital Economy and Society Ministry and the Tourism and Sports Ministry concerning a scheme to publish mobile safety alerts to deal with such incidents to ensure public safety.
Siam Paragon agrees to pay ฿5 million to families of the two murdered women, a 34-year-old Chinese tourist and Burmese employee of the shopping centre
Police handling of the incident on Tuesday has received widespread praise, particularly the officers of Metropolitan Police Bureau Division Six Precinct, who responded to it within five minutes and for the security staff at the Siam Paragon Centre, who managed to evacuate the shopping centre within 15 to 20 minutes, leaving the 14-year-old gunman isolated.
On Friday, the Siam Paragon Centre also announced online that it was going to pay out ฿5 million to the families of each of the murder victims and ฿300,000 to the family of each person who was injured in the attack.
The famous shopping centre has also agreed to pay the salary of the Myanmar worker Ms Tawan who died and has facilitated funeral rites for the employee currently underway in Pak Kret, Nonthaburi.
The deceased woman’s mother was transported to Bangkok with her family to attend her daughter’s final religious ceremonies.