Thailand reconsiders $8 tourism tax as Phuket, Pattaya face overtourism

By VNA   April 23, 2024 | 04:55 pm PT
Thailand reconsiders $8 tourism tax as Phuket, Pattaya face overtourism
Tourists at a beach in Phuket, Thailand, on March 20, 2020. Photo by AFP
Thai tourism operators are urging the Thai government to seriously consider measures to tackle overtourism and one of the proposed measures is a tourism tax of 300 baht (US$8.11).

As Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has vowed to make 2025 a landmark year for tourism, secretary-general of the Federation of Thai Tourism Associations (Fetta) Adith Chairattananon said a white paper that the federation will present to the government will include solutions to prevent overtourism, which was seen in Thailand before the pandemic.

According to Adith, with a projection of 40 million tourists, major destinations in Thailand like Phuket, Samui, and Pattaya are on the verge of facing overtourism.

During the high season, Phuket had already witnessed traffic congestion and water shortages, while its international airport ran out of available slots for airlines, he said.

He also said one of the key strategies is to attract tourists from major hubs to the country's secondary cities that offer plenty of potential attractions and space to accommodate a significant flow of tourists.

There should be incentives for airlines who are keen to operate direct flights to provincial airports such as U-tapao, and those serving Khon Kaen and Krabi, he suggested, adding that the move will alleviate congestion among gateways such as Phuket Airport or Suvarnabhumi Airport, and will also help create regional business opportunities.

Besides, relevant authorities should accelerate connectivity between airports to inner cities too.

For instance, the lack of public bus access from U-tapao Airport to Pattaya city discourages new airlines from operating flights as the current situation is not convenient for passengers.

Meanwhile, Vice President of the Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT) Surawat Akaraworamat said the government should reconsider collecting the 300-baht tourism fee to help fund tourism development as the plan and all related preparations have now been finalized.

Surawat said the essential funds will benefit infrastructure development in second-tier provinces to attract tourists and improve attractions that have deteriorated due to overtourism.

He said the 300-baht fee will help tourism authorities receive a larger budget.

He noted that a tax of only 300 baht will not discourage foreign tourists from visiting Thailand as some parties have raised as a concern since the fee is inexpensive compared to some other nations.

Thai authorities have reconsidered measures to tackle the overtourism issue in the context that other countries in the world have made moves.

Last week, Amsterdam city banned building new hotels in the city while residents of Spain's Canary Islands called for a limit on tourist numbers because they were affected by rising housing costs.

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