By Barry Kenyon

Anything and everything about Thailand
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British police won’t arrest illegal holidaymakers leaving the UK

By Barry Kenyon

March 28, 2021

It’s already illegal for Brits to leave the country by air or sea if they are seeking an overseas vacation. From Monday, March 29, the penalty for defying the law goes from 200 pounds “up to” 5,000 pounds and the possibility of arrest. There is no end date for the new regulations which have been prompted by fears of virus variants being brought back to UK by returning residents.

However, Martin Hewitt, chairman of the National Police Chiefs Council, said that police officers on duty at international exit points would not arrest anyone attempting to leave the country. Their role would be restricted to questioning people and handing out penalty notices, but would stop short of physical enforcement.

He added that, if arrests were necessary for any fleeing Brits, that would be the responsibility of the UK Border Force (separate from the police) and private security organizations. He added that, as regards residents returning from abroad, 508 fines had been handed out to people who had broken the self-quarantine regulations by leaving their stated accommodation illegally during the isolation period.

The police chief’s remarks have been interpreted that a softly-softly approach to exiting Brits might be in play. For example, wealthy individuals might not be concerned about the fine, whilst others might argue that their overseas trip was a mixture of business and pleasure. The only paper requirement is to fill in a form at the airport or seaport about why their journey is necessary. Failure to complete the right paperwork carries a fine of 200 pounds.

Moreover, the latest list of 10 reasons include some vague categories in addition to formal work, family responsibilities, medical needs and being an overseas student. Volunteer or charity work is now included and “viewing houses” has been added to the rent or buy clauses. Those “not permanently resident in UK’ are also excluded from the ban which clarifies, as regards Thailand, that returning visa holders and retirees are likely safe.

Meanwhile, Thailand is liberalizing its quarantine regulations. Effective April 1, vaccinated travellers will need spend only one week in compulsory hotel quarantine, whilst others will require 10 days rather than the earlier fortnight. Thailand is also committed to a trial run from July to welcome vaccinated international tourists to Phuket without any quarantine, with a hope to extend to other provinces in October.

https://www.pattayamail.com/featured/br ... -uk-348749

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Pattaya’s gay scene does have a future after all

By Barry Kenyon

April 1, 2021

There is no shortage of prophets of doom concerning the future of gay bars and clubs. Worldwide about half have closed already and “queer spaces” in the USA and UK are being eaten alive by massive building projects and tower blocks. Pattaya, of course, is no exception and certainly exceeds the 50% closure estimate.

Blame is usually loaded onto the coronavirus pandemic, but that’s an over-simplification. Drag cabaret artiste and LGBTQ+ spokesperson Eggz Benedict says the Pattaya gay scene has been in decline at least 10 years. “There are so many factors,” she says, “Thailand got expensive for western tourists, regular police crackdowns began and digital hookup platforms such as Grindr and Hornet replaced chrome poles, dark rooms and dance floors.”

Her work colleague Mattress Lil points out that the three main gay districts in Pattaya are very different. “Boyztown in its heyday was the posh area, but basically priced itself out of the market.

Sunee Plaza catered for the men looking for young teens and that scene was obliterated by the police years ago. Jomtien Complex, also known as Super Town, has survived as an open bar area with no nightclubs. It’s generally quiet these days, but the Thai and foreign operators are mostly wealthy and are biding their time.”

But both predict that there will be a comeback once the virus subsides. “Foreign gay tourists don’t just want a casual pickup, they want company and entertainment which are things the internet can’t provide in a real form,” prophesied Eggz, “even though the next influx will be Chinese and Asians rather than Europeans.” This idea that community rather than casual sex is the key to the future gay scene was voiced by many Pattaya old hands.

Chris Summers, who has wide experience of running gay businesses said, “You have to remember that the organized Pattaya gay scene is geared to foreigners’ wallets virtually one hundred percent. Gay Thais prefer to meet other Thais via the internet or at private parties.” He added that the days of go-go boys wearing numbers on their underpants for ogling foreigners were rapidly coming to an end. “The bars that survive after the pandemic will be cosy and relaxed rather than the noisy, seedy knocking shops of the past.”

Gay prostitution will survive for obvious reasons, but that too will change. “It will become much more expensive,” Chris predicted, “as the Thai economy diversifies, the country becomes wealthier (post Covid) and selling your body is no longer a convincing career route as Thailand ages demographically whilst the birth rate plunges.” By the end of the current decade more than half of all Thais will be in their fifties or later. By 2040 the working age population will be smaller than the retired cohorts.

Khun Nam, a currently unemployed worker at Pattaya’s Tiffany’s cabaret, stresses that transvestite shows were never aimed primarily at gay tourists. “Before the pandemic, there were four huge Pattaya theatres catering nightly for hundreds of Chinese family tourists arriving in coaches twice or three times nightly.” He added that about 500 professional cabaret artists would soon return to work once quarantine is no longer required for visitors. That could be before Christmas.

Kevin Smythe, a computer specialist living in Pattaya, said, “New technology has its limits in Thailand. For example, the media communications platform Zoom in theory can provide gay virtual entertainment and lively music in your own home. But it has not taken off in Thailand. Most of the staff employed in gay bars and clubs are temporary or non-secured staff. They can’t make any money from virtual customers. They need people coming in through the door.”

Pattaya City in 2021 is in a state of flux. Even the pandemic hasn’t stopped the building boom whilst the industrial Eastern Economic Corridor has already removed most of the greenery and wildlife between Pattaya and Rayong. The “old” Pattaya is not about to return, but – over time – will assume new tourist functions in response to developing markets. The future gay scene is no exception to the rule.

https://www.pattayamail.com/latestnews/ ... all-349257

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Re: By Barry Kenyon

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I wish Barry could have been more specific about how this might affect expats already living in Thailand. Maybe it is not yet clear to him either, but I am hoping we might be relieved of the 800,000 baht requirement for the retirement visa. We shall see.

I also like the idea of being able to buy property. If that works out, maybe I can buy my own house. I paid for it, but technically I don't own it.

If you're wondering why I didn't post this under "Announcements", it's because there is not yet anything to announce. These are proposals, so we will have to wait and see what comes to pass. I've learned not to hold my breath for these sorts of things.
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Thailand to amend immigration rules to lure one million wealthy foreigners

By Barry Kenyon

April 2, 2021

The Thai government is drawing up new plans targeting better-off foreigners to come and work or retire in the country. Deputy Prime Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow said that the government’s top economic committee had approved in principle a number of measures for the post-pandemic era.

Top of the list is the Smart visa for investors, skilled workers and entrepreneurs in S-curve industries such as robotics, biofuels, electronics, renewable energy and medical hub. The attractions include abolition of the 90 day address reporting to immigration, fast-track passage at airports and no need to have a separate work permit.

The Smart visa also enables the spouse and children of the holder to live, work or study in Thailand without further bureaucracy. The multiple-entry visa lasts initially for four years with an annual check at immigration. The Eastern Economic Corridor, adjacent to Pattaya, is a centre for S-curve industries with a modest 300 individuals qualifying to date.

To further sweeten the deal, the government’s top economic committee has ordered a review of how foreigners would be able to buy a house (in addition to a condominium unit) without the need to establish a company with Thais as majority shareholders. Property owners might also qualify for specified working without a separate permit.

Other plans include the extended use of the Elite visa which grants a multiple-entry stay of 5-20 years in exchange for an initial cash payment of 600,000-1.2 million baht. Further possibilities for luring foreigners with the Elite visa include cancellation of 90 days reporting and the chance for the wealthiest sector to buy new property from developers and perhaps qualify for permanent residency without the need for any visa at all.

It is understood that the government review will also encompass regular retirees with one year extensions of stay requiring a modest monthly income or cash deposits in a Thai bank. If the government wishes to attract one million foreigners to be based here, it will presumably have to take account of pensioners with an income far less than 100,000 baht per month. Working parties will report again to the Centre for Economic Situation Administration at the beginning of May.

https://www.pattayamail.com/latestnews/ ... ers-349422

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Re: By Barry Kenyon

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Holiday Brits are still banned from Thailand

By Barry Kenyon

April 6, 2021

The British prime minister has announced that it is still too early to predict when Brits may be able to travel abroad for “non-compulsory” journeys. Under rules currently in force, it is illegal for UK passport holders to vacation overseas, although they can book flights on an at-your-own-risk basis.

Boris Johnson said that all such holidays are banned until May 17 at the earliest, but promised that a traffic-lights system was on the cards. Countries would be labeled red, amber or green, based on their vaccination record, rates of infection, emerging new variants and laboratory models known as genomic sequencing. Green-labeled countries might be visited without the need for quarantine on return, although Covid tests would still be needed before and after the holiday.

The chances of Thailand being included on the green list for the next few months are regarded as slim. A mass vaccination program in Thailand has not yet begun, except in Phuket where a pilot scheme is under way. New variants are still in a problem in Bangkok where recently-discovered clusters have now led to the closure of some 200 bars and clubs. Random testing is not used widely in the country, although test-and-trace policies in districts where a virus outbreak has occurred have mostly been very positive.

Other Southeast Asian countries are also having problems. Cambodia, Thailand’s neighbor, has introduced a curfew and lockdown in the capital Phnom Penh, whilst soaring infection rates in the Philippines have led to a total travel ban from there to the UK and other countries. Virus outbreaks in Myanmar have been complicated by the incipient civil war which has led to homeless people crowding the Thai land borders.

The lack of clarity in the current British response to holiday travel was attacked by Clive Warren, chief executive of the Business Travel Association, who said it was “beyond disappointing”. The travel consultancy PC Agency said the government can’t continue “just kicking the can down the road,” adding that hundreds of thousands of jobs were at risk.

Meanwhile, the British health authorities are working on digital and non-digital ways of ascertaining the Covid status of individuals, but the government has not so far committed itself to any app. Most travel gurus believe that vaccine passports of one sort or another will become compulsory for travel before the end of the year. The Thai prime minister has ordered a top committee to examine the same subject and is awaiting its recommendations.

https://www.pattayamail.com/news/holida ... and-349979

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