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Premier urged to tackle over tourism

Premier urged to tackle over tourism

In numerous countries, there is a growing resistance to overtourism. Thai tourism operators are pushing for the government to seriously assess the nation’s tourism capacity. Some have proposed implementing a 300-baht tourism levy as a solution to the issue.

As Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin aims to make 2025 a significant year for tourism, Adith Chairattananon, the secretary-general of the Federation of Thai Tourism Associations (Fetta), stated that the federation will present a white paper to the government containing strategies to combat overtourism, which was problematic in Thailand before the pandemic.

Similarly, last week saw efforts in other countries. Amsterdam’s local government announced a ban on new hotel constructions, while residents of Spain’s Canary Islands demanded restrictions on tourism arrivals due to rising housing prices.

“Foreseeing 40 million tourists, prime destinations like Phuket, Samui, and Pattaya are close to experiencing overtourism,” Mr. Adith mentioned.

During peak seasons, Phuket faced challenges like traffic jams, water shortages, and a lack of available airline slots at its airport.

To combat these issues, it’s crucial to divert tourists from major hubs to secondary cities offering ample attractions and space. Encouraging airlines to operate direct flights to regional airports like U-tapao, Khon Kaen, and Krabi can distribute traffic and boost regional economic prospects.

Additionally, enhancing connectivity between airports and inner cities is vital. For instance, streamlining public transport from U-tapao Airport to Pattaya City can attract more flights and enhance passenger convenience.

Surawat Akaraworamat, vice-president of the Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT), suggested revisiting the idea of the 300-baht tourism fee to support tourism development. The funds generated could enhance infrastructure in less-visited provinces, thus reducing congestion in popular spots and revitalizing worn-out attractions.

According to Mr. Surawat, instituting the 300-baht fee would secure more substantial funds for tourism authorities. The current budget of only 700 million baht for the Tourism Department falls short in funding crucial projects.

Contrary to concerns, the 300-baht tax is deemed affordable for foreign tourists, especially when compared to other nations like Bhutan, which levy over US$100 per night. Many countries worldwide already collect tourism taxes from visitors through various means such as flight tickets or hotel bookings. Thailand could consider adopting a trial phase of tourism tax collection through mobile apps or kiosks to manage this effectively.

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