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Thailand is introducing a $9 tourist fee for foreign visitors starting in April, AFP reported.

Strict entry rules imposed to hold back a pandemic hit Thailand's crucial tourism industry last year, leading to the worst economic performance in more than 20 years.

The new fee of 300 baht ($9) will be included in the price of airline tickets, Thanakorn Wangbunkongchan, a government spokesman, said in a statement.

Before the pandemic, nearly 40 million people visited Thailand a year, but the kingdom hopes to rethink its tourism strategy with a greater focus on sustainability.

Yuthasak Supasorn, head of Thailand's Tourism Authority said that the revenue will be used to ensure foreign tourists and improve infrastructure for sustainable tourism.

According to the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, tourism revenues are projected to be between $39 billion and $54 billion this year, of which about $24 billion is expected from foreign travelers.

The ministry predicts that about five million foreign tourists will come to the kingdom in 2022 if current travel patterns remain the same up from nearly 40 million a year before the pandemic. But that number could rise to 15 million visitors if arrivals from China, India and neighboring countries improve.

Thailand relaxed entry rules by the end of 2021 in an effort to reset tourism, but changed the rules again as the number of Omicron variant cases rose sharply around the world.

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