Foreign tourists may soon find Thailand a more expensive destination than in the past two years with the country now planning to raise hotel rates to pre-pandemic levels to support a faster recovery of the industry.
The tourism ministry plans to ask hotel operators to implement a dual-tariff structure under which foreign visitors may be charged rates similar to pre-pandemic days while locals may continue to enjoy discounted rates, Traisuree Taisaranakul, a government spokeswoman said in a statement on Wednesday.
“This is to maintain our standards of rates and services for foreign tourists, which affects the perception of country’s tourism brand,” Ms Traisuree said. “Rates that have been reduced during Covid-19 will be maintained for Thais to sustain the momentum of domestic tourism.”
Hotels in tourism hotspots such as Bangkok, Phuket, Krabi and Koh Samui continue to offer huge discounts to draw back visitors after the pandemic pushed room occupancy rates to about 30%.
While there was no immediate response to the proposal from hotel operators, the tourism ministry and the Tourism Authority of Thailand will soon hold talks with the Hotel Association of Thailand about the dual pricing plan, according to Ms Traisuree.
While the country has scrapped all Covid-related travel restrictions, the tourism sector is still reeling from heavy losses accumulated during the pandemic.
The government expects 9.3 million foreign arrivals this year, a fraction of the 40 million tourists who arrived in 2019.
It was not immediately clear how the government’s new plan to attract more foreign tourists to Thailand – by raising prices and charging them more than Thais – would impact foreigners living in the kingdom.