How to annoy tourists: Look at Thailand

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Thai immigrationTourism in ASEAN is booming, and many countries – possibly apart from Brunei – are making decent proceeds out of it. This year, Thailand will surpass Malaysia as the ASEAN country with the highest number of travelers, expecting around 26 million people to enter the Kingdom.

The Thais are very well aware that tourism is a huge source of income, and they do not shy away from burdening tourists in every conceivable way they can, but in a dual-price system. For example, the admission fee for the Grand Palace in Bangkok, must-see for visitors, is 400 baht ($13), while it is free for Thais. The entry fee for national parks has just been increased from 400 to 500 baht ($16) for tourists in October 2012 while it costs just 100 baht ($3.20) for locals. In 2009, a fee for foreign transactions at ATMs of Thai banks of 150 baht ($4.80) has been introduced while withdrawals are free for Thai account holders.

This double pricing system is prevalent throughout the country and across all sectors and goes without saying among the Thai population. In a newest effort, Thailand now plans to introduce an “entry fee” for the country of 500 baht for every foreign tourist by 2014, levied at the entry point (airport or land border crossing), in addition to visa fees. This is unique in ASEAN and has been perceived as quite an affront by Thailand visitors.

“This is as if you would collect entry fee for a zoo,” an observer cynically remarked, and “downright rude”, said another. With the indignation about the entry fee announcement just beginning to surge, the Thai authorities stepped their game up on October 24 and said that they also will increase the airport departure tax at all national and international airports in Thailand, where it in the future will cost 800 baht ($26) to leave the country per plane and 200 baht ($6.50) to board a domestic flight, with the amount added to the ticket price.

All in all, for foreign tourists it will therefore cost $42 just to enter and exit the country in addition to any visa fees. For a family of four, this adds up to $168 just for the honour to be welcomed in Thailand. Thailand’s government coffers, in turn, will be filled by an additional $1.17 billion from the enter and exit fees alone – given the tourism number projection of 28 million in 2014 -, illustrating what massive cash cows tourists are in Thailand these days.

However, the move could easily backfire to the tourism industry in Thailand, with some travelers simply choosing to go elsewhere. Hopefully, other ASEAN countries don’t make the same mistake to overcharge visitors in such a shameless way.

This comment is part of Inside Investor’s weekly column series in Brunei’s leading newspaper Brunei Times and is published every Monday.

brunei_times_logo

Do you like this post?
  • Fascinated
  • Happy
  • Sad
  • Angry
  • Bored
  • Afraid

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Tourism in ASEAN is booming, and many countries – possibly apart from Brunei – are making decent proceeds out of it. This year, Thailand will surpass Malaysia as the ASEAN country with the highest number of travelers, expecting around 26 million people to enter the Kingdom.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Thai immigrationTourism in ASEAN is booming, and many countries – possibly apart from Brunei – are making decent proceeds out of it. This year, Thailand will surpass Malaysia as the ASEAN country with the highest number of travelers, expecting around 26 million people to enter the Kingdom.

The Thais are very well aware that tourism is a huge source of income, and they do not shy away from burdening tourists in every conceivable way they can, but in a dual-price system. For example, the admission fee for the Grand Palace in Bangkok, must-see for visitors, is 400 baht ($13), while it is free for Thais. The entry fee for national parks has just been increased from 400 to 500 baht ($16) for tourists in October 2012 while it costs just 100 baht ($3.20) for locals. In 2009, a fee for foreign transactions at ATMs of Thai banks of 150 baht ($4.80) has been introduced while withdrawals are free for Thai account holders.

This double pricing system is prevalent throughout the country and across all sectors and goes without saying among the Thai population. In a newest effort, Thailand now plans to introduce an “entry fee” for the country of 500 baht for every foreign tourist by 2014, levied at the entry point (airport or land border crossing), in addition to visa fees. This is unique in ASEAN and has been perceived as quite an affront by Thailand visitors.

“This is as if you would collect entry fee for a zoo,” an observer cynically remarked, and “downright rude”, said another. With the indignation about the entry fee announcement just beginning to surge, the Thai authorities stepped their game up on October 24 and said that they also will increase the airport departure tax at all national and international airports in Thailand, where it in the future will cost 800 baht ($26) to leave the country per plane and 200 baht ($6.50) to board a domestic flight, with the amount added to the ticket price.

All in all, for foreign tourists it will therefore cost $42 just to enter and exit the country in addition to any visa fees. For a family of four, this adds up to $168 just for the honour to be welcomed in Thailand. Thailand’s government coffers, in turn, will be filled by an additional $1.17 billion from the enter and exit fees alone – given the tourism number projection of 28 million in 2014 -, illustrating what massive cash cows tourists are in Thailand these days.

However, the move could easily backfire to the tourism industry in Thailand, with some travelers simply choosing to go elsewhere. Hopefully, other ASEAN countries don’t make the same mistake to overcharge visitors in such a shameless way.

This comment is part of Inside Investor’s weekly column series in Brunei’s leading newspaper Brunei Times and is published every Monday.

brunei_times_logo

Do you like this post?
  • Fascinated
  • Happy
  • Sad
  • Angry
  • Bored
  • Afraid