Malaysia to impose tourism tax, Thailand plans mandatory insurance for tourists

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Malaysia will impose a new tourism tax from July 1 this year, ranging from 2.50 ringgit ($0.60) per room per night for an “unrated” guesthouse to 20 ringgit ($4.70) for a five-star hotel room per night, the Malaysian Customs Department’s announced.

At the same time, the Thailand government is considering a proposal by the tourism ministry that all foreign tourists will be required to have travel insurance before entering Thailand. It is not clear yet if business and other visitors would also be required to buy coverage.

In Malaysia, the new tourism tax will be collected from all types of premises used as accommodation for tourists, except homestays registered under the ministry, premises managed by public institutions such as student homes, premises used for training purposes and religious institutions where such facilities are not used for commercial purposes. Premises with fewer than ten rooms are exempted.

However, the new tax will apply to all guests regardless of their nationality or travel purpose, be it a holiday, business, a seminar, a sports or a religious event.

The Malaysian Association of Hotel Owners is not amused and said the new taxes would add to the burden of operators struggling to cope with the Goods and Services Tax introduced two years ago.

Meanwhile in Thailand, the proposed travel insurance could become compulsory for those traveling on a tourist visa or on a visa waiver for tourism purposes. The idea has been vented as early as last year after hospitals and emergency services complained that due to the rapid growth in tourism arrivals the number of accidents and other medical incidents also increased, but hospitals have often been left carrying the cost of medical treatment of uninsured tourists injured during their stay in Thailand and of those who have no means to pay their bills.

The proposals suggest the installation of insurance vending machines at airports and border checkpoints to make the purchase of insurance coverage easier quick and easy.

According to Jaturon Phakdeewanit, director of the Tourism Safety and Security Standards division in the ministry, visitors without travel insurance have cost Thailand at least 3 billion baht ($88 million) a year for their medical treatments at state hospitals. This number, however, pales compared to the almost $50 billion in revenue Thailand expects from tourism in 2017 alone.

The prices for travel insurance for an average one-week stay in Thailand can range from $25 to over $200, depending on the insurance company and the scope of coverage. However, those who pay their holiday by credit card are normally insured anyway as most cards offer travel insurance coverage.

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Malaysia will impose a new tourism tax from July 1 this year, ranging from 2.50 ringgit ($0.60) per room per night for an “unrated” guesthouse to 20 ringgit ($4.70) for a five-star hotel room per night, the Malaysian Customs Department's announced. At the same time, the Thailand government is considering a proposal by the tourism ministry that all foreign tourists will be required to have travel insurance before entering Thailand. It is not clear yet if business and other visitors would also be required to buy coverage. In Malaysia, the new tourism tax will be collected from all types of...

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Malaysia will impose a new tourism tax from July 1 this year, ranging from 2.50 ringgit ($0.60) per room per night for an “unrated” guesthouse to 20 ringgit ($4.70) for a five-star hotel room per night, the Malaysian Customs Department’s announced.

At the same time, the Thailand government is considering a proposal by the tourism ministry that all foreign tourists will be required to have travel insurance before entering Thailand. It is not clear yet if business and other visitors would also be required to buy coverage.

In Malaysia, the new tourism tax will be collected from all types of premises used as accommodation for tourists, except homestays registered under the ministry, premises managed by public institutions such as student homes, premises used for training purposes and religious institutions where such facilities are not used for commercial purposes. Premises with fewer than ten rooms are exempted.

However, the new tax will apply to all guests regardless of their nationality or travel purpose, be it a holiday, business, a seminar, a sports or a religious event.

The Malaysian Association of Hotel Owners is not amused and said the new taxes would add to the burden of operators struggling to cope with the Goods and Services Tax introduced two years ago.

Meanwhile in Thailand, the proposed travel insurance could become compulsory for those traveling on a tourist visa or on a visa waiver for tourism purposes. The idea has been vented as early as last year after hospitals and emergency services complained that due to the rapid growth in tourism arrivals the number of accidents and other medical incidents also increased, but hospitals have often been left carrying the cost of medical treatment of uninsured tourists injured during their stay in Thailand and of those who have no means to pay their bills.

The proposals suggest the installation of insurance vending machines at airports and border checkpoints to make the purchase of insurance coverage easier quick and easy.

According to Jaturon Phakdeewanit, director of the Tourism Safety and Security Standards division in the ministry, visitors without travel insurance have cost Thailand at least 3 billion baht ($88 million) a year for their medical treatments at state hospitals. This number, however, pales compared to the almost $50 billion in revenue Thailand expects from tourism in 2017 alone.

The prices for travel insurance for an average one-week stay in Thailand can range from $25 to over $200, depending on the insurance company and the scope of coverage. However, those who pay their holiday by credit card are normally insured anyway as most cards offer travel insurance coverage.

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