Two articles today:
Hopes for the upcoming high season in Pattaya are sinking
By Barry Kenyon
September 29, 2021
The Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT) has reported that various plans to reopen resort cities, including Pattaya, likely won’t bear much fruit until next year at least. TCM president Chamnan Srisawat said the government should make urgent adjustments to various hurdles which are handicapping international tourist arrivals.
He said that the Sandbox concept, due to be extended to Pattaya and some other tourist cities in November, needed to be standardized. Although formal quarantine is not required, Sandoxers must stay at least a week in a listed hotel paid for in advance, but different schemes have their own rules about limiting movement for the first two weeks. For example, it is unclear if a traveller can leave the Sandbox province during that time, whilst the concept of “sealed routes” on and after arrival has received little clarification.
The TCT also wants the cost of Covid exams reduced by allowing more use of antigen tests rather than the expensive PCR method. Three PCR tests on and after arrival can cost 8,000 baht or more in Thailand, adding yet another cost to the holiday. The Council further suggested that tour operators should be free to assist potential tourists with the bureaucratic certificate of entry procedure which is required by all arrivals.
The documents required by embassies for the certificate of entry vary according to the specific visa applied for and even discretion by the individual embassy. But all applicants are required to buy in advance Covid-related insurance worth US$100,000 for the duration of the visa. Some visas, for example based on retirement or the newly-extended Special Tourist Visa additionally require general health insurance worth 400,000 baht (inpatient) and 40,000 (outpatient), a huge problem for many foreigners aged 75 and beyond.
Meanwhile, bars and clubs are closed throughout the country and dark red zones, including Pattaya, have a prohibition on serving alcohol with meals, as well as a curfew starting at 10 pm. The Thai Hotels Association believes that the best hope for short-term arrivals will be Indian and Russian group tours. President Marisa Nunbhakdi said the Chinese market would not pick up until the end of 2022, whilst traditional markets in Europe and the USA would shy away from Thailand as long as the country appeared to close down in the early evening.
UK travel specialist Greg Watkins said there would be zero interest in Thailand until the country simplified its entry procedures, got rid of movement restrictions for fully vaccinated arrivals and restarted evening entertainment opportunities. He noted that Thailand is currently off-limits for Brits as it is listed as a danger-red zone for Covid. But he expected this particular ban to be short-lived as Thailand was making good progress in controlling the spread of infections.
https://www.pattayamail.com/latestnews/ ... ing-373744
Thailand’s top judiciary still wrestling with watershed gay marriage
By Barry Kenyon
September 29, 2021
The decision by the Constitutional Court to postpone yet again till December a decision on marriage equality for a Thai same-sex couple who have lived together for 10 years illustrates the sensitivity of gay issues in Thai politics. The case has been around since 2017 and was referred to the top court after the couple was refused registration of their union by a Bangkok district office and they complained to the local family court.
The eventual ruling by the Constitutional Court will center on section 1448 of the civil and criminal code that only heterosexual unions may tie the knot. To date, gay Thais have very little legal protection. The 2015 Gender Equality Act is often quoted but still allows discrimination on multiple fronts such as religion and security. As recently as 2002, the public health ministry decreed that homosexuality wasn’t a mental illness after all.
Various bodies have endorsed the idea of gay rights. The Tourist Authority of Thailand in 2017 launched a campaign Go Thai Be Free to encourage gay foreigners to vacation in the Land of Smiles. Even the Thai Cabinet last year endorsed the idea of equality for gay couples, although discussion of the issues in parliament has been very slow. Some legislators blame the Covid crisis for pushing civil liberties issues to the back of the queue.
There are, in fact, two proposals which have been presented in parliament. The civil partnership bill is currently delayed at the Ministry of Justice for internal review. It covers property management, adoption and inheritance, but falls short of full gay equality such as pension rights and medical benefits. The same sex marriage bill is currently stalled in parliament and seeks to amend the civil and criminal code to allow marriage irrespective of sex or sexual orientation.
To date, no Asian country has adopted gay marriage without any restrictions at all. Taiwan is often quoted as the ideal after the 2019 act, but even here a Taiwanese national may not marry a same sex partner of another country unless gay marriage is recognized there too. When a written ruling from the top Thai constitutional authority does come, it’s likely to be both lengthy and complex. That’s the Thai way in such matters.
https://www.pattayamail.com/news/thaila ... age-373716