Thursday, October 17, 2019

High baht putting off tourists – and foreign residents

Nov 18. 2018
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There seems to be alarm, almost bordering on panic, at the falling tourist statistics, and many sectors are commenting on ways to reverse this trend, including waiving visa fees.

Might I suggest the relevant authorities look at the high price of the baht, which is making it more expensive for tourists coming here, especially those with US and Australian dollars, British pounds and the euro.

But Thailand has not only become more expensive for tourists, it is also becoming too expensive for expatriates living here, particularly those in retirement who rely on funds from their home countries.

I am in the market for a new car and the one I want is priced Bt789,000, which at today’s exchange rate is going to cost me 32,900 Australian dollars. Not too long ago the exchange rate was about Bt30 to the Aussie dollar, and the car then would have cost me AU$26,300. That is a price hike of AU$6,600.

Even minor everyday purchases are more expensive. At Bt30, The Nation used to cost me AU$1. Now it costs me $1.25, and my morning cup of coffee as I read the paper used to cost me AU$1.30. Now it costs me AU$1.60.

I am not an economist and the mysteries governing international currency exchange rates are way beyond me, particularly how the baht remains so high.

The Vietnamese dong is fairly stable and Vietnam offers a far cheaper holiday alternative than Thailand.

And the Indonesian rupiah is deliberately kept artificially low to attract tourists, particularly from nearby Australia.

David Brown


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