Thailand Mulls a Compulsory Tourist Insurance against COVID-19

Thailand, COVID-19, news, insurance

Tourism Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn (Photo: Bangkok Post)

Thailand could eventually impose a modest tourist tax levy to cover COVID insurance. The tax could fluctuate between THB 200 and THB 300 (US$6.25 and US$9.35) but still needs to be endorsed by the Thai cabinet before to be implemented. 

According to a report from the Bangkok Post, the Tourism and Sports Ministry is considering a tax of 300 baht or less per person for foreign arrivals that could cover pandemic insurance, once inbound flights and tourism activities resume in the country.

Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, the tourism and sports minister, said the tax would be collected once foreigners arrive by air, land or sea transport.

The levy will be added to the tourism fund managed by the ministry that aims to rebuild and develop tourism supply chains here, as well as offer safety and security protection for tourists. He said this idea was initiated last year but was delayed because of the pandemic. Now is the right time to initiate collection, explained the Minister to the Bangkok Post.

The goal is to have tourists entering via air travel charged as a part of their air tickets, but the government has not finalised how collection for land and sea transport would work. “The pandemic has had a severe impact on tourism confidence, and the tourism fund should set aside a budget for state agencies to carry on when looking after tourists affected by the pandemic,” he said.

Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said the ministry assigned Naresuan University to conduct a feasibility study on a reasonable tax burden for visitors. The ministry estimates the maximum should not exceed 300 baht per person although he personally favours a levy of THB100 to THB200.

After the feasibility study is finished, the ministry will submit it to the cabinet for approval. The ministry intends to announce the new tax before the fourth quarter to let tourists prepare, he said.

“The Tourism Authority of Thailand’s [TAT] new target is 16 million arrivals this year, but I’m not optimistic we can reach that goal as international tourists will not come back before the fourth quarter. Compared with the last quarter of 2019, when we had 11-12 million arrivals, the new goal is too high amid these circumstances,” explained the Minister.

While being pessimistic for the total number of international arrivals this year, the Minister seems to be overoptimistic regarding domestic trips. The Minister estimates that Thailand could record 100 million domestic trips for the year as most Thai outbound tourists will not be able to travel abroad.

(Source: Bangkok Post)