Thailand is contemplating charging foreign visitors an entrance fee, in an effort to keep unsavory characters out of the country and attract “quality” tourists.
The Thai government may begin to charge visitors who arrive by air a 500 baht ($16.04) entrance fee starting in January, while those who arrive by land will be charged 30 baht a day, according to the Thai Public Health Minister Pradit Sintavanarong, the Bangkok Post reported on Monday.
Pradit said that officials from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, the Ministry of Public Health and the Royal Thai Police have all agreed on the idea and believe the extra charge will lead to an increase in the quality of tourists entering their country.
"The tourism and sports minister [Somsak Phurisrisak] told me that every other country is collecting entry fees from foreigners," Pradit said. "The money will be used for many purposes by the tourism, health and foreign affairs ministries, and the Immigration Bureau."
When asked whether he thinks the plan could backfire and decrease the amount of tourists visiting the nation, Pradit said the Ministry was not opposed to the plan.
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"Now is the time for us to have quality tourists. It's not as if inbound tour operators won't organize tours for foreign tourists to come to the country because of the entry fees," he said.
The scheme would also prevent foreigners from overstaying their visas. Currently, there are about 100,000 visitors who are refusing to leave Thailand after their visas expire, the Bangkok Post reported.
So far, the policy hasn't received enough encouraging feedback. Samphan Panphat, adviser to the Thai Hotels Association (THA), said the entry fee lacks transparency and could significantly hurt the tourism industry.
Panphat has reportedly proposed that the government specify the nationalities of tourists who could pose problems, and not punish tourists from other countries who wouldn't bring about those problems.