By Barry Kenyon

Anything and everything about Thailand
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Re: By Barry Kenyon

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No silver bullet solution to Pattaya’s tourist collapse but no shortage of ideas

By Barry Kenyon

August 30, 2020

Lots of cash is being bumped into Pattaya, but it’s all long-term spending. Infrastructure improvements, hi-speed trains and a totally revamped U-Tapao airport are all well and good, but they don’t touch the problems of today. And now the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) has promised multi-billions more to build coach parks and improve pier facilities at Jomtien and on Koh Larn. There’s no shortage of future confidence in Pattaya, whatever the resort’s critics may say.

In the meantime, the world pandemic and local travel restrictions have all but decimated the foreign tourist industry in Pattaya. Weekends are the brighter spot as the government’s We Travel Together project, which offers Thai citizens subsidies and discounts on hotel bookings and domestic airfares, is certainly succeeding in bringing Thais here on non-work days and holidays. Discounts are also in the wind for foreign expats in a yet-to-be-announced scheme, although it might have been better to include them in the original scheme to avoid charges of double pricing.

Businesses in Pattaya have reacted in many different ways to the ongoing shortage of customers. Some closed last March and never reopened, including some of the biggest names in the Walking Street. Indian restaurants have been noticeably hit by closures and a number of eateries popular with the Brits have bitten the dust too. Some outlets have sought to reassure their customers and the well-known Robin’s Nest in Soi Diana offers an optimistic tone on its chalkboard notice.

Over half of Pattaya’s registered hotels are still closed, but there is a growing trend to try and attract what custom there is. The just-reopened Apex on Second Road is offering a specially-discounted room rate of 550 baht per night. A nearby hotel, which is still closed, is trying to raise some cash by offering its frontage as a car parking area. The notice in English states a standard fee of 100 baht, but the one in Thai suggests 50 baht for a short time. Double pricing even in adversity.

Even in sections of Soi Buakhao, the most popular area dominated by expats and visa amnesty beneficiaries, the bars are not busy. Discounts are the order of the day and cold bottled beers at 55 baht are becoming universal. Notices are often spellbinding. One bar offers you a chance to play with the staff, but there’s no need to become puritanical. The game in question is checkers. Or noughts and crosses if you are on the dense side. Meanwhile, the Hungry Hippo continues to dominate the eateries in that area of town with its neo-British menu and eye-catching value for money.

Other strategies are being tried too. Several tailor shops are now opening only in the evenings as foot traffic in the daytime is miniscule. Massage parlours often have discounted specials – two for the price of one – including the seldom-mentioned and controversial ear spa which devotees say removes wax whilst others say it is both ridiculous and dangerous. One bar in Jomtien is about to launch a twice-weekly music evening with karaoke and perhaps community singing. Special round-the-world-buffets offering cuisine from a dozen countries or more is a feature of several enterprising restaurants. However, one curiously has spaghetti in both the Italian and the Mexican pots.

The latest news is that the government is considering allowing both retirees on one year extensions of stay and foreigners who own a condo in their own name to fly back here provided they have a wad of documents and proof of insurance worth at least US$100,000. Phuket looks set to welcome limited charter flights provided the vacationers don’t mind spending their initial two weeks in quarantine which, however, does include the right to sit daily and quietly on the beach in a small marked-off box area. Tough luck if it’s raining.

Story and photos: https://www.pattayamail.com/news/no-sil ... eas-312991

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Re: By Barry Kenyon

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Updates on Thai immigration requirements at 2 September 2020

By Barry Kenyon

September 2, 2020

Who can come to Thailand at present?

The permitted groups are mainly foreign diplomats, aliens with Thai spouses and/or dependants, work permit holders, foreigners with secured job offers and regular students. In addition to proving with documents their claimed status to the satisfaction of the local Thai embassy, all applicants must present a fit-to-fly certificate, a coronavirus-free test shortly before departure, have comprehensive medical insurance worth at least US$100,000 and confirmed booking for 14 days quarantine at a Thai ASQ hotel (Alternative State Quarantine). The Thai embassy has the final say and will issue an essential Certificate of Entry to those permitted to fly.

What visas are Thai embassies issuing?

Only a three months’ non immigrant visa which under some circumstances can be extended in Thailand. Visas valid for 12 months and 60 day tourist visas are not being issued and visas-on-arrival and 30 day visa exemptions are also precluded at the present time. This policy is in line with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ insistence that visas at present must be for a limited time and for specific purposes.

What flights are on offer?

Because scheduled flights into the country are still banned, non-Thai nationals must obtain a ticket to board a repatriation flight for Thai citizens which can lead to delays. For example, in September, there are three such flights being organized by Thai Airways from London with 50 seats only on each plane reserved for British and Irish nationals. Other airlines may not operate a quota system, but tickets can be expensive. Quotes of 1,000 UK pounds for a one-way economy ticket or 2,500 UK business class are reported on social media.

What about medical tourists?

This is indeed an approved category but is surrounded with ifs and buts. A medical tourist must have a letter from the home country stating that suitable treatment is not available there and another letter from a Thai hospital describing the life-threatening condition and the prescribed treatment. It also appears that the medical tourist must not travel alone but must be supported by up to three care assistants. Several private hospitals in Thailand specializing in medical tourism have stated that, to date, very few applications to embassies have been successful.

What about Elite visa holders?

The Elite visa offers a 5-20 year multiple-entry visa in exchange for a non-returnable cash deposit between 500,000 and two million baht. Last month, the Privilege Card Company sent an email to all card holders and applicants who had paid the cash up-front stating that Elite was now an approved category for applying to the local Thai embassy for permission to enter Thailand. However, many Thai embassies are stating that final permission is still awaited from Bangkok. No foreigner is known to have yet entered Thailand recently solely by virtue of Elite membership.

Are any other groups able to come to Thailand?

Permanent residents – those select foreigners who can stay in Thailand as long as they like without leaving or applying for an extension – are another eligible group. But they still need that all-important Certificate of Entry from the Thai embassy with all the supporting paperwork and insurance. Short-term arrivals such as air crews, film crews and cargo carriers are permitted to enter under a dispensation clause and do not necessarily quarantine for two weeks. But they must leave promptly. Last June there was publicity about a special dispensation for wealthy tourists arriving in Thailand by private jet, but nothing more was heard of this proposal.

What’s the position with foreign retirees and property owners?

At present, holders of an annual retiree visa or extension of stay are not able to return by virtue of that status. Nor are the owners of condominium units or long-term lease holders. In late August, one government minister stated that the future of both groups was being examined, but there is no policy statement at the time of writing. The attraction of these groups seems to be that they are believed to be “wealthy”, though one can certainly argue about that supposition.

And tourists, vacationers, travel-bubblers and snowbirds?

No general tourists are able to enter Thailand at the present time and there are not any relevant charter flights. There are reports that the government is pondering allowing selected foreign groups to visit Phuket under a Safe and Sealed policy, possibly in November, but there is nothing definite. Many influential government medical advisors are known to be firmly opposed to tourist experiments lest they unintentionally create a second wave of that pesky virus.

https://www.pattayamail.com/featured/up ... 020-313366

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Re: By Barry Kenyon

Post by gera »

These day by day updates make little sense because it will take time to implement travel decisions by Thai bureaucracy. I will not consider travel plans till November (arrival of high season). Admittedly though there are two risk factors here in US: second wave because virus activity depends on weather conditions and elections. I do not care who wins (both sides are absolute shit) but peaceful transition is highly questionable.

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Re: By Barry Kenyon

Post by Gaybutton »

gera wrote:
Wed Sep 02, 2020 7:53 pm
I do not care who wins (both sides are absolute shit) but peaceful transition is highly questionable.
Let's not get into that on this topic.

Right now the focus is on who can travel to Thailand and when. Maybe I'm wrong, but if anyone believes travel to Thailand as a tourist will be possible by some point in November, I think you're dreaming. I doubt there will be much of a high season during 2020 or even early 2021. The last few high seasons weren't much different from low season anyway.

Even if Thailand actually opens up to tourism by then, now all you would need to do is find an airline to take you there, not to mention any to take you back home again.

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Re: By Barry Kenyon

Post by Jun »

Gaybutton wrote:
Wed Sep 02, 2020 8:15 pm
Even if Thailand actually opens up to tourism by then, now all you would need to do is find an airline to take you there, not to mention any to take you back home again.
Whilst flights are not very common at present, if Thailand PROPERLY opens up and the source country is not imposing unreasonable restrictions, there will be some tourist demand. As soon as there is enough demand to fill planes, there will also be some flights.

Remember, all those airlines own or lease expensive aircraft and are desperate to get those aircraft paying their way.

What we might have to do is pay a little more for the flights. For many, that is no problem, since we've been forced to live economical lifestyles over the last few months.

What I don't yet see is Thailand making any concerted effort to define attractive entry requirements. Even if they want to keep quarantine, they could probably do a few things to create an attractive package.
e.g.
1 Offer some good quarantine packages at nice resorts at an attractive price. Discounted rates for 2 weeks are more profitable than no income.
2 Pair this with attractive visa/visa exemption policies. I read somewhere that the proposed minimum stay would be 30 days. Yet, if I present my passport, it gets stamped with a maximum of 30 days. They could offer 120/180 day visa exemptions, or an e-Visa, but just make sure the e-Visa is as easy to get as the Cambodian one used to be. At least make it look like they are trying to encourage people in.

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Re: By Barry Kenyon

Post by gerefan »

Thailand has lost the plot...

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Re: By Barry Kenyon

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It doesn't look good, folks. I've seen several posts on the various boards insisting that Thailand has no choice other then to permit international tourists again. Obviously the Thai powers-that-be do not see it that way. Choice or not, I see nothing in the news to indicate that tourism is going to be reopened any time soon. And as long as the mandatory 14-day quarantine remains in effect I don't foresee long lines at travel agencies buying tickets to go to Thailand.

It's a no-win situation for the decision makers. Open tourism and along with it introduce a serious risk of a second Covid outbreak and an epidemic in Thailand. Don't open tourism and the industry collapses, along with peripheral businesses and untold numbers of people unemployed.

Apparently, at least so far, Thailand's authorities see keeping the borders closed as the lesser of the evils and it seems it is going to stay that way for the foreseeable future.
_______________________________________________________

Plans to admit foreign tourists to Thailand on back-burner again

By Barry Kenyon

September 9, 2020

The hope that some foreign tourists might soon be able to enjoy tropical Thailand during the European winter has nosedived since the threat of community transmission of the pesky virus has resurfaced in recent days. There are fears in government circles that local residents may not welcome any foreign influx in the near future.

Tourism Minister Phipat Ratchakitprakarn said yesterday that officials had visited Phuket to assure locals that all entrants to Thailand, both Thai nationals and foreigners, would undergo at least 14 days quarantine. He added that local people in any case wanted to see priority given to foreigners who had family or work in the area rather than leisure tourists.

Various schemes have been put forward to allow select groups of tourists to enter Thailand, but none has received the go-ahead from the government’s key committee the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA). Travel bubbles between Thailand and other low-risk countries such as China and Singapore were initially on the cards, but collapsed after infection rates began to rise again.

Another suggestion was a “safe and sealed” approach in which tourists from overseas cities or regions (rather than whole countries) where there had been no domestic virus transmission for at least a month would be allowed to board a flight to Thailand. But the detail was not clarified and critics said that the selection of individuals would likely be too complicated to be feasible any time soon.

The most recent proposal was the Snowbird vacation in which retired tourists from cold climates would receive a special visa of 90 days plus two optional extra 90 days (a maximum of nine months) to enjoy the famed Thai beaches. But the groups would be brought here by charter flights and there was the obvious problem that the vacationers would not all want to go home at the same time. It’s unlikely the white-haired Snowbirds will migrate this year.

Yesterday the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA) announced that officers would meet operators and locals in Pattaya this week to seek practical measures on a new proposal. This would involve a “safety tourism” scheme in which Asian tourists would be able to visit Thailand without undergoing the 14-day quarantine. Instead, the latest technology in testing for the virus would be used and travel agents would assume responsibility for ensuring the visitors remained together as a group and did not wander. The problem is that humans share with cats a firm determination to wander at all costs.

Meanwhile, there continues to be doubts about the eligibility of Elite visa holders to come to Thailand in the near future. It was announced last month that existing and new applicants for the privilege visa, which allows unrestricted entry for between five and 20 years on payment of a substantial cash fee, would be allowed to travel here. However, the website of the Thai embassy in London still does not include them in the approved categories, whilst the Thai embassy in Washington DC states it cannot yet issue a certificate of entry for Elite members without approval from Bangkok.

The suspension of foreign tourism to Thailand is costing the Thai economy around two trillion baht on an annual basis and is already creating serious unemployment in the leisure sector. But Thai authorities continue to wrestle with the dilemma that you can’t rescue foreign tourism to its pre-virus heights without increasing the risk of spreading the infection. The question now is whether that conundrum has any workable solution until reliable vaccines are universally available. That’s 2022 at best.

https://www.pattayamail.com/travel/plan ... ain-314282

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Re: By Barry Kenyon

Post by bkkguy »

Barry Kenyon wrote:
Fri Sep 11, 2020 2:29 pm
Meanwhile, there continues to be doubts about the eligibility of Elite visa holders to come to Thailand in the near future. It was announced last month that existing and new applicants for the privilege visa, which allows unrestricted entry for between five and 20 years on payment of a substantial cash fee, would be allowed to travel here. However, the website of the Thai embassy in London still does not include them in the approved categories, whilst the Thai embassy in Washington DC states it cannot yet issue a certificate of entry for Elite members without approval from Bangkok.
I am not sure if it is appropriate to post a link to a discussion on another forum, particularly because it is anecdotal evidence from a single Elite Visa holder (who is still not in the country) - so GB delete this post if it is not - but his claim is Elite Visa holder entry applications were never meant to be handled by the Thai embassies anyway, they are handled completely and seamlessly by the Elite office in Bangkok directly

https://sawatdeenetwork.com/v4/showthre ... post269385
I’m nervous now when people cough near me, I would be much more comfortable if they would far cough.

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Re: By Barry Kenyon

Post by @DM »

Barry Kenyon wrote:
Fri Sep 11, 2020 2:29 pm
Meanwhile, there continues to be doubts about the eligibility of Elite visa holders to come to Thailand in the near future.
FYI - Here are some pages from the Thailand Elite office describing the process.


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Re: By Barry Kenyon

Post by Gaybutton »

bkkguy wrote:
Fri Sep 11, 2020 8:22 pm
I am not sure if it is appropriate to post a link to a discussion on another forum
I have no problem about it.

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