The cabinet on Tuesday endorsed entry fees for international arrivals of 150 and 300 baht to start in June, except for one-day visitors, according to the tourism and sports minister.
Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said the 300-baht rate would apply to visitors who arrive by air and the 150-baht fee was for those entering the country via water and land transport.
The fee was cheaper for those arriving by water and land because they were likely to stay in the country for only a few days, the minister said. Visitors who do not stay overnight would be exempted from the fee.
The government expects to collect about 3.9 billion baht in fees this year and part of the sum will be used to provide health and accident insurance coverage for tourists during their stay in the country.
“The entry fee will support care for tourists. From 2017 to 2019, foreign tourists used services at public hospitals and that cost the state as much as 300-400 million baht,” Mr Phiphat said.
The entry fee, widely criticised by the local tourism industry, comes as the country is witnessing a rapid upturn in arrivals that has gained momentum with the abolition of pandemic-era curbs and China’s move to end its zero-Covid policy.
Foreign tourist arrivals may reach as high as 30 million this year, almost tripling from 11.2 million last year, according to some estimates. Arrivals in pre-pandemic 2019 were a record-high 40 million.
Authorities have long considered an entry fee for foreign travellers but its imposition was delayed by the pandemic. A part of the fee will also help fund the development of local tourist attractions, Mr Phiphat said.
The levy will be added to air ticket prices, while the method of collection from entry by land has yet to be determined, the the government said last year.
Wuthichai Luangamornlert, managing director of Siam Park City, the operator of Siam Amazing Park in Bangkok, said he welcomed the move but added that “the collection of the fees and strict control of its use must be ensured to avoid any problems that may arise in the future”.