Lonely Planet Writer

Thailand could be about to make travel insurance compulsory for visitors

Visitors to Thailand may have to purchase holiday insurance before entering the country if a proposal currently being considered by the officials at the Ministry of Tourism and Sports becomes law.

Floating market in Pattaya, Thailand. Image: Mark Anthony Bansag/500px
Floating market in Pattaya, Thailand. Image: Mark Anthony Bansag/500px

The reason behind the move is that visitors without travel insurance are costing Thailand at least three billion baht (€78.3 million/$88.2 million) a year for their medical treatments at state hospitals.

In 2015, 32.59 million travellers visited Thailand and so far this year over 14 million people have entered the country. They’re lured by the stunning beaches and scenery, historic buildings, bustling city life, friendly locals and amazing food. From backpacking to water sports, they’re having a ball, but their misadventures and mishaps while there are costing local hospitals a fortune.

The Chinatown district of Bangkok at dusk. Image: K.Inspiration_06/Shutterstock
The Chinatown district of Bangkok at dusk. Image: K.Inspiration_06/Shutterstock

Government officials will discuss the issue with tourism operators before submitting the proposal for approval by lawmakers. As to enforcement, it is likely that travel insurance documents will be inspected at immigration counters upon arrival.

A long tail boat in Krabi, Thailand. Image: Teradat Santivivut/Getty Images
A long tail boat in Krabi, Thailand. Image: Teradat Santivivut/Getty Images

This move will potentially make a holiday to the southeast Asian country more expensive for visitors. Nonetheless, officials are keen to see the measure implemented as a matter of urgency. “We need to push this through as soon as possible because the problem is becoming more serious,” said Jaturon Phakdeewanit, director of Tourism Safety and Security Standards.