Bangkok (VNA)Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism and Sports has decided to delay a plan to collect a tourism levy from foreign visitors which would further harm the already struggling tourism industry.

In May, the ministry announced it was studying the idea of collecting a tourism levy from foreigners which will be used to rehabilitate natural tourist destinations. The tax amount would be minimal and not affect visitors, it said.

But Permanent Tourism Secretary Chote Trachu said the levy could result in psychological deterrence among foreign tourists, bringing further obstable to the country’s key industry.

The ministry will not impose a tourist levy this year as it could worsen Thai tourism, especially when the baht is so strong, he said.

He was convinced that international tourist arrivals to Thailand during the last quarter of this year will accelerate to reach 40 – 41 million as projected thanks to extension of the waiver of the visa-on-arrival fee.

Tourism has been an economic driver for Thailand over the past decade as revenue collected from foreign visitors accounts for about 12 percent of the country’s GDP.

Last year, the country welcomed over 38 million arrivals, contributing more than 2 trillion THB (65.3 billion USD) of income. Combined with domestic travel, tourism receipts totaled 3 trillion THB in 2018. 

This year, Thailand expects 41 million arrivals, generating 2.2 trillion THB. 

Several countries have put in place a tourism levy, aiming to use the funds to improve local destinations. 

Earlier this year, Japan imposed a 1,000 JPY (9.17 USD) "sayonara" (good bye) levy, while Malaysia recently started charging a departure tax of 5 USD for tourists from ASEAN countries and 10 USD for international tourists.–VNA