The pandemic highlighted just how vulnerable some tourist economies are during a global crisis. Thailand, for example, saw annual visitor numbers drop from 40 million in 2019 to just 200,000 in 2021. That’s a huge source of people’s livelihoods, nearly totally wiped out.
But now, in an attempt to change the very nature of its tourism industry, the country has announced it will introduce a fee for all international visitors of 300 baht (£6.60 or $9). The ‘tourist tax’ will come into force in April, and be automatically included in the price of airline tickets.
So, why is the government risking alienating some travellers with such a measure? The aim is to help the Thai economy move away from cheap resort tourism. The government hopes to use the money to invest in better infrastructure in tourist hotspots, as well as help cover healthcare for uninsured travellers.
Thailand recently suspended its more relaxed Covid rules due to the spread of the Omicron variant. The current measures in place state that all travellers to the country are required to have paid in advance for both Covid tests and accommodation/quarantine (depending on where they’re travelling from). All international arrivals in Thailand also have to have Covid treatment insurance.
But Thailand still has its ‘sandbox schemes’ in place, which have opened up some parts of the country to tourists. The ‘sandboxes’ allow fully-vaccinated travellers to visit several Thai regions and islands (including Phuket, Krabi and Surat Thani) without quarantine.
Meanwhile, the country’s current ‘visa exemption’ scheme means that travellers from the UK, USA, Australia, Canada and elsewhere can stay for up to 45 days without a visa. It’s a pretty complicated system with plenty of caveats, so take a look at our up-to-date guide to Thailand’s current travel rules.
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