Travel agents urge state to delay new fee

Tourists arrive at Suvarnabhumi airport during the first day of the country's reopening campaign on Nov 1. (Reuters photo)
Tourists arrive at Suvarnabhumi airport during the first day of the country’s reopening campaign on Nov 1. (Reuters photo)

A new fee to be imposed on international tourists should be postponed until the travel industry fully recovers, as the country faces headwinds during this high season, according to the Association of Thai Travel Agents (Atta).

Atta president Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn said that since Thailand’s reopening on Nov 1, there had been 3,000-4,000 international tourists per day on average. However, the tourism market’s confidence is not strong as many countries in Europe, the main target for this high season, are facing a resurgence of Covid-19 infections.

Meanwhile, the compulsory RT-PCR test upon arrival, which is still priced differently to origin countries such as India, which prices the test at only 250-400 baht, might deter tourists as many countries are ramping up their own tourism recovery plans by loosening entry restrictions for inbound travellers.

Atta secretary-general Adith Chairattananon said the fee for the tourism transformation fund, which the Tourism and Sports Ministry would like to start collecting next year, should be implemented when international markets are more stable.

Tourism operators also want the government to clarify the objectives and mechanisms of the fund management, such as who will benefit from the fund and what types of tourism project developments are the main targets for the financial aid.

Mr Adith also suggested the government establish a budget early on, and ensure the transparency of the project by including the private sector on the fund committee.

He said that after one month of reopening, most of Thailand’s tour operators haven’t benefited from the scheme as the entry rules only require hotel operators to handle airport transfers and provide Covid-19 tests and accommodation.

However, the Tourism Ministry has already asked the Foreign Ministry to include tour operators in the Thailand Pass system to provide travellers with more choices, as the operators can help facilitate tourists during their entry process from the airport to hotels.

Mr Adith said tour operators also have strong customer bases and overseas networks, which could support tourists who face inconvenience during their applications or entry processes.

The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration will today consider further relaxation of the second phase of reopening from Dec 1, which may replace RT-PCR tests with antigen test kits for arrivals.

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