300 baht landing fee ‘unlikely to be scrapped’: Tourism Minister

FRIDAY, MAY 31, 2024

New tourism minister says charging tourists a so-called landing fee will be introduced but doesn’t give any indication of when this might start

Thailand is unlikely to abandon the highly controversial tourist tax called “Kha Yeap Pan Din” (fee for stepping on Thai soil), also known as a “landing fee”, according to new Tourism and Sports Minister Sermsak Pongpanich.                

The measure, approved in principle by the Cabinet in February last year, aims to levy 300 baht ($8.17) for foreigners arriving by air and 150 baht ($4.09) for those arriving by land or sea.

Sermsak told the press on Thursday that the implementation of the tax is “unlikely to be scrapped”, after he opened an event to promote sustainable tourism hosted by the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA).

“I have received the principle of the measure and (the ministry) is considering the implementation process,” he said. “We already have people working on it.”

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin earlier urged that the fee collection be delayed so that it would not affect the government’s tourism promotion policy.

When the fee was proposed in late 2022, then-Tourism Minister Phipat Ratchakitprakarn said the money earned would be used to buy insurance for foreigners and the remainder added to the tourism development fund. The fund will support the building of entrances for the disabled and toilets at tourist attractions.

Sermsak, a former Culture Minister, swapped positions with former Tourism and Sports Minister Sudawan Wangsuphakijkosol during the cabinet reshuffle in April.

300 baht landing fee ‘unlikely to be scrapped’: Tourism Minister

Sermsak also said on Thursday that his mission as the new tourism minister will focus on improving tourism infrastructure and promote emerging tourism attractions, including newly discovered ancient towns and world heritage sites.

“The ministry will launch special programmes to promote these places to attract foreign visitors,” he said.

He remarked that lack of a comprehensive tourism infrastructure has long been an obstacle for the development of the industry, as can be seen from the latest Travel & Tourism Development Index 2024 published by World Economic Forum, in which Thailand fell 6 places to 47th (of 119 countries) compared to before the pandemic.

He said he intended to use the remaining 3 years of the government’s term to push Thailand up the index under the government’s policy of making Thailand a regional hub for aviation and tourism.