Gov’t to Charge Tourists 100 Baht for Insurance

BANGKOK — Foreign tourists visiting Thailand will soon have to pay 100 baht on arrival on top of any visa fees for their mandatory health insurance, a tourism official said Thursday.

The fee of 100 baht levied from each traveler will be used to buy insurance to cover his or her stay in Thailand, tourism ministry secretary Chote Trachu said. He expects the measure to roll out “six months from now.”

“Based on our preliminary [study], we won’t charge them more than 100 baht per person,” Chote told the media. “But I insist that the fee will be collected based on necessity, and it will have a minimum impact on the industry.”

He expects that 3.8 billion baht will be raised from 38 million tourists who visit Thailand annually. Chote did not mention whether visitors already covered by their own insurance packages will be exempted.

Tourism authorities launched several unsuccessful bids in recent years to impose mandatory health insurance on inbound tourists.

Commenting on the latest proposal, Tourism Minister Weerasak Kowsurat said the government has been spending as much as 300 million baht on healthcare and even corpse transportation for foreign visitors.

“After this law is enacted, the Thai government can buy insurance to cover foreign tourists without interfering with Thai nationals’ tax money,” Weerasak said. “Each year, the state has to bear the cost of emergency vehicles, medical treatment and transport of bodily remains.”

He added, “Whenever we try to bill someone, no one would pay.”