PHUKET: Reports of government plans to raise both arrival and departure taxes on foreign tourists reflect an almost complete lack of cohesion on tourism policy by government officials, and fly in the face of previous pronouncements that Thailand stands at the ready to become the “tourism hub” of the Asean region.

The proposed increases, a 100-baht hike in airport departure tax on international flights and a 500-baht “arrival” tax to help cover the costs of treating uninsured foreign tourists, need to be evaluated independently. The fact that they were put forward in the same week by different government ministries is likely to reinforce the perception abroad that Thailand’s reputation for hospitality is becoming increasingly eroded by greed and over-dependence on its premier cash cow: the tourism industry.

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