According to an update issued by the Thai government, the implementation of the Thailand Tourism Fee (TTF), which was scheduled to begin in June 2023, has been postponed until September 2023.
According to Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, the reason for the delay is to ensure that the TTF system operates smoothly while discussions with airlines continue to determine the appropriate collection method in accordance with International Air Transport Association (IATA) rules.
It is worth noting that the Royal Thai Government plans to impose a tourism fee of 300 Baht, or $9, or around ₹750, on all international tourists arriving in the country.
However, certain groups are exempted from the tax, including diplomats, infants under 2 years, those with work permits, single-day and transit passengers, and permanent foreign residents in Thailand.
Clarification on the term “resident”
While some expats may consider themselves as “residents” and potentially exempt from the tax, the term “resident” in this context refers to permanent residents who hold a red police residency book and have no visa expiry date in their passports. This status is much sought-after and requires a complex application procedure that can take years.
The implementation of the new tax has been delayed until September due to the reluctance of airlines to include the tax in airfares while excluding it from the tickets of Thai nationals and the exempt groups.
It is still unclear whether the dilemma will be resolved by taxing everybody and instituting a post-arrival refund policy, or by training travel agents on what documentation to look for when deciding whether to include the tax.
Establishing a payment system on arrival at Thai airports could also pose macro-crowd control issues.
Challenges for taxable foreigners at land border crossings
Foreigners arriving at land border crossings face their own set of challenges, such as needing change, paying in foreign currencies, or offering online payments.
The Tourist Authority of Thailand is currently exploring various solutions, including advance payment online, cash booths at immigration checkpoints, and the establishment of a private company to sort everything out.
Purpose of the Thailand Tourism Fee
The Thailand Tourism Fee (TTF) is intended to develop and improve tourist destinations, as well as provide medical insurance for tourists. While it is not yet clear what medical insurance coverage entails, previous announcements suggested that government coverage would be limited to discretionary help in mass accidents such as cremation costs and compensation to family members.
The Ministry of Tourism has promised to provide further information on the TTF after the general election in mid-May.