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Amazing Thailand Countdown 2017 @ Phuket

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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Phuket is ready for an Amazing Thailand Countdown 2018 @ Phuket on December 30-31, expecting to generate at least 200 million Baht.

Last night (December 20), at Blue Elephant, Deputy Governor of Domestic Marketing, Tourism Authority of Thailand, Noppadon Pakprot, alongside Phuket Governor Norapat Plodthong and the President of Phuket Old Town Community, Don Limnantapisit, held a press conference announcing the New Years events around the island

“We are ready to welcome travellers during New Year, especially with security in mind. There will be 2 main activities including a mega market in Saphan Hin offering great Phuket local products that starts on December 29 until January 8, 2018. There will also be the Amazing Thailand Countdown 2018 @ Phuket on December 30 – 31 in the Phuket old town area, featuring the charm of Sino-Portuguese architecture and local culture.”

“We will also be opening a tourist service centre to accommodate and assist tourists with all their queries. There will be tourist police as well as volunteers who are fluent in a second and third language to broaden the services of the tourist police across many languages. The centre will be open 24 hours a day.”

Amazing Thailand Countdown 2017 @ Phuket | News by The ThaigerAmazing Thailand Countdown 2017 @ Phuket | News by The Thaiger

Meanwhile the Deputy Governor of Domestic Market, Tourism Authority of Thailand, added that Phuket is one of the 5 provinces of Thailand that provides special new year’s activity. The theme of the events in Phuket this year is Modern Retro and an exhibition can be inspected from 4 pm – midnight at Standard Charter Building, Thalang Road and 72nd Anniversary Commemoration of Queen Sirikij Public Park (Dragon Park).

“There will be a lot of activities and entertainment, including concerts and performances to attract travellers with festive decorations, a carnival and parade of Baba traditional costumes, food trucks and many more local products, photo backdrops, games and the highlight and a countdown at Standard Charter Building. We expect at least 45,000 people to join the festivities this year.”

“On January 1, there will also be a Big Cleaning activity that will be open for everyone to join.”

Amazing Thailand Countdown 2017 @ Phuket | News by The ThaigerAmazing Thailand Countdown 2017 @ Phuket | News by The Thaiger

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Expats

Thai hotels to offer 1,000 baht discounts for expats

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thai hotels to offer 1,000 baht discounts for expats | The Thaiger

To stimulate domestic tourism and help revive the economy after the pandemic, hotels plan to offer expats a 1,000 baht discount on rooms until the end of the year. A debt moratorium, put in place to help businesses hurt by the pandemic, is ending this month and hotels need a boost.

The Thai Hotels Association, or THA, says they will offer the discount on 5,000 room nights. Expats will need to show their passport. The discount is valid until December 31. THA president Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi says the new campaign supports the hotel industry during the tough economic situation. With a ban on international tourists over the past 7 months, many hotel rooms have been empty.

Even though Thailand is reopening borders to foreign visitors on the new Special Tourist Visa, the amount of international tourists expected to come in over the next month or so is a tiny fraction of the number of tourists arriving this time last year.

To reach out to foreigners who are already in the country, Thai hotels partnered with the Tourism Authority of Thailand for the Expat Travel Bonus program, offering travel, accommodation and other deals at events in Bangkok.

With the debt moratorium ending this month, Marisa says most hotels have restructured their debt with creditors. She says banks are trying to avoid nonperforming loans, which are loans more than 90 days overdue.

Since the coronavirus outbreak, occupancy rates have fallen drastically and many hotels temporarily closed. Marisa says it’s still necessary to continue with the stimulus campaign. She adds that the association is urging hotels not to raise the room rates or quote unfair prices to expats.

Thaiger Tip: Check whatever room rate you’re being offered under this new program with one of the online travel websites – bookings.com, aged.co, hotels.com, etc. Many of the hotels are already offering big discounts through the online booking portals.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Protests

2 Thai protest leaders immediately re-arrested after being released on bail

Maya Taylor

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2 Thai protest leaders immediately re-arrested after being released on bail | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai PBS World

Authorities have re-arrested 2 of the leaders at the centre of anti-government protests right after they were granted temporary release on bail. Panasaya Sitthijirawattanakul, known as “Rung”, and Parit Chivarak, aka “Penguin”, were released yesterday from Patum Thani prison, north of Bangkok. They were being held on charges of violating the emergency decree and released alongside fellow protester Nutchanon Pairote, after Thammasat University professors paid bail of 200,000 baht for each of them.

What is the meaning of the 3-finger salute? Watch below…

But they were promptly re-arrested on the basis of another warrant issued by police in the Bangkok sub-district of Chana Songkhram, this time charged over another mass gathering in violation of the emergency decree. They are being held pending another detention request being filed by police with the Dusit Municipality Court in the capital today.

It’s understood fellow activist, Nutchanon Pairote, who was apprehended alongside Panasaya the first time, and also released on bail, has not been re-arrested. He says protesters are celebrating after Cabinet approved a debate on re-drafting the Constitution.

“It is our first victory. We still cling to our 3 core demands in order to make Thailand a truly democratic country. If there is another gathering tomorrow, I will insist on going as I can’t leave any of my friends out there who are dedicating their time to fight for the country.”

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Complete Thailand Travel Guide (October 2020)

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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Complete Thailand Travel Guide (October 2020) | The Thaiger

Latest update – October 21. If you are overseas and wish to come to Thailand your FIRST port of call must be the Royal Thai Embassy in your country before you make any bookings. Thailand Longstay is also a valuable resource of information at this time.

First ‘tourists’ arrive in Thailand under the Special Tourist Visa

In 2019, almost 40 million tourists arrived in Thailand. On October 20, 41 ‘tourists’ arrived, the first in 7 months. Thailand is slowly, slowly, re-opening its borders after the Covid-19 pandemic forced a total shutdown in March. The Kingdom welcomed its first tourists in 7 months, with the arrival of 41 Chinese tourists from Shanghai. The group landed at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport on a chartered flight laid on by Spring Airlines, a low-cost Chinese carrier.

The visitors are here on the recently-launched Special Tourist Visa and upon touchdown, had to download a special app to track their movements while in Thailand. Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, also confirmed they will carry out 14 days’ quarantine, before they are free to travel around. The STV grants them a stay of up to 90 days and can be extended twice.

A new visa amnesty now runs until the end of October

Foreigners who recently paid 1,900 baht for a 30 day visa extension (before September 26) are now clear to stay in Thailand until November 30 at no extra cost, but those foreigners need to report to immigration to get their visa stamp updated.

The CCSA announced another grace period for foreigners stranded in Thailand, until October 31. Under the new regulation, 60 day visa extensions will be issued to those who are unable to travel back to their home country. The reasons could be lack of flights, problems with Covid in their home country, medical reasons or something else that prevent you from leaving the country.

Those who received a 30 day extension will need to visit their local immigration office and get the correct stamp that will indicate the new expiration date in their passport, according to a story in The Phuket News. In the past, foreigners have needed to present a letter from their country’s embassy requesting an extension, but Immigration Bureau Deputy Commissioner Pornchai Kuntee says “letters from embassies may not be needed.”

Tell us about the new long stay ‘special tourist visa’, the STV.

Here are the strict basic requirements of the new STV which has been formally approved and Gazetted…

• Foreign visitors will be required to have a Covid-19 test taken 72 hours before, departure

• They will have to buy Covid-19 health insurance

• Sign a letter of consent agreeing to comply with the Thai government’s Covid-19 measures

• Will be for a minimum 90 days (there have been some reports of a minimum 30 days), renewable twice, to a total of 20 days

• The visa will be limited to people from ‘low-risk’ countries although that list has not been announced

• Successful applicants will have to complete a 14 day mandatory quarantine at a state-registered quarantine/hotel

• STV travellers must travel by charter plane and every flight carrying them must receive permission from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or CCSA

The new 90 day special tourist visa would be able to be extended twice, for 90 days each time. So, a total of 270 days (around 9 months). It was also announced that travellers would have to arrive on charter flights only, further pushing up the price of potential travel back to Thailand.

“Visitors can arrive for tourism or health services, and they can stay at alternative state quarantine facilities, specific areas or at hospitals that function as quarantine facilities. Our public health system is amongst the best in the world and people can have confidence in it.”

The new ‘STV’ (Special Tourist Visa) which will cost 2,000 baht and will last for 90 days each. The new visa regulation will be in effect until September 30, 2021 and may be extended beyond that time.

The government noted that it doesn’t have the ability to fully re-open to tourism at the moment as they have to be able to process incoming visitors and find approved locations for them to serve their 14 day quarantine.”The target is to welcome 100-300 visitors a week, or up to 1,200 people a month, and generate income of about 1 billion baht a month.”

Thai officials have also said they will only accept tourists from “low risk” countries, without specifying what those countries are.

On Friday, September 18, a director at the Department of Disease Control, said that foreign tourists will have to present proof of a negative Covid-19 test no more than 72 hours prior to travel.

The Thaiger will update the details of the new long stay tourist visa as soon as the become available.

Are there any Facebook pages where I can share my story about wanting to come back to Thailand?

The ‘Love Is Not Tourism Thailand’ Facebook page, which includes families torn apart by the pandemic, is calling on the Thai government to help reunite their families.

“We’re asking the government to issue visas or allow entry for family members and lovers to reunite with each other for humanitarian reasons. Evidence such as a passport with an entry stamp into Thailand, photos, and text messages should be able to verify their unions.”

How is Thailand doing compared to the rest of the world with it’s re-opening to tourists?

The UN World Tourism Organisation has published its latest update on the state of the world’s re-openings in the Covid-era. 53% of the world’s tourist destinations have now started easing travel restrictions government’s imposed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The UNWTO reports acknowledges that many destinations “remain cautious” and some are even re-closing borders and tightening up restrictions again.

It’s the 7th edition of the “Covid-19 Related Travel Restrictions: A Global Review for Tourism”and identifies an ongoing global trend to gradually restart the world’s tourism machine. The report analyses restrictions by governments up to September 1. The research covers a total of 115 destinations (53% of all destinations worldwide) have now eased their travel restrictions – that’s an increase of 28 since 19 July. Of these, two have lifted all restrictions, while the remaining 113 continue to have certain restrictive measures in place.

• Another stand-out stat was that in advanced economies, 79% of tourism destinations had already started easing restrictions. In emerging economies, less than half, just 47% of destinations, have started the process.

• 64% of those destinations which have eased have a “high or medium dependence” on airlines to deliver international tourists to their location. Island destinations are particularly at risk at this time as the air lift is critical to their tourist success.

• 43% of all worldwide destinations continue to have their borders completely closed to all tourism, of which 27 destinations have had their borders “completely closed” for at least 7 months.

• Half of all destinations in the survey, with borders completely closed to tourism, are listed as being among the “World’s Most Vulnerable Countries”. They include 10 Small Island Developing States, one Least Developed Country and three Land-Locked Developing Countries.

Should I use a visa agent to extend my visa?

There are plenty of ads being posted at this time offering magic extensions to visas and opportunities to stay in Thailand after September 26. Please be aware that some of these alleged visa agents are scams. There are also plenty of good visa agents who will be able to provide you with advice and solutions, at a cost, allowing you to remain in the country.

If you do wish to contact a visa agent at this time make sure you get a referral from a friend, visit their office in person or ask plenty of questions and check their bonafides. Do not start sending money to accounts until you have seen some paperwork or evidence that they are able to provide you with a legal and professional service. Caveat emptor!

I had a retirement visa and have lived in Thailand for many years. When can I return?

Foreigners with permanent residences who have been stranded overseas for the past 6 months, and long-term foreign residents (retirement visa), can now re-enter Thailand, under a number of restrictions, including where you are travelling from.

Both groups, if approved, will still have to undergo the mandatory state-controlled 14 day quarantine period.

If you believe you fall into either of these categories, contact your local Thai Embassy or consulate to discuss your circumstances BEFORE you purchase a ticket or make any other arrangements.

Is it safe in Thailand at the moment?

Yes. No less safe than usual and certainly there has been no civil unrest that would make you ponder your personal safety beyond the usual precautions you would take anywhere in the world. The current student protests are fairly limited and are publicised ahead of time so you can avoid those situations. Whilst there has been some outbursts against foreigners from a Thai politician and a few stressed-out locals, the situation for foreigners remains safe and secure at this time.

What happened to the Phuket Model?

It was a non-starter after the government encountered resistance from some in Phuket. It was also not well received by travellers and many in the local hospitality industry.

At this stage, a model to allow limited tourists to re-enter the country, on extended tourist visas, with some restrictions, is being hammered out by the CCSA in conjunction with the Public Health Department, TAT and Ministry of Sports and Tourism. It’s called the Special Tourist Visa and is aimed at high-wealth tourists with plenty of time, as the visa has a minimum 90 day stay requirement.

I have been stranded in Thailand since April. Now I have run out of money and don’t know what to do.

This is a really difficult situation and you’d be well advised to contact your friends and family, and advise them of your predicament. Also, you MUST contact your country’s embassy or consulate to alert them of the situation. They will at least have information about repatriating you to your home country or perhaps other options that may be available.

Just hoping your situation is going to improve won’t work. Get as much information as you can about your options. And hopefully your family or friends can send you some funds to tide you over during this crazy time. Chock dee krub!

The airlines are selling tickets to fly to Thailand now. Should I buy one?

No. Don’t buy a ticket for a flight to Thailand until you have ALL the paperwork required, have discussed your trip with your local embassy and you have been approved for travel. Why the airlines keep selling tickets, for flights that will be cancelled, is a mystery.

There are currently no plans to open Thailand’s borders for international tourism beyond proposals for a limited opening for tourism into Phuket called the Phuket Model. It was proposed to start in October but no decisions have been made.

Which leads us to the next question….

Would a Thailand Elite Visa solve my problems?

Yes and no. The Elite Visa program is an excellent and convenient means of staying in Thailand with few problems, allowing you to avoid visits to Immigration and most of the paperwork. But it’s an expensive up-front costs and, for now, there is a 3-4 month waiting period to process new applications.

At this time, there is also a limit on the number of people, on various visas, they are allowing to re-enter Thailand each day. But if you have the cash, it’s definitely an option as people on the Thailand Elite Visa are currently allowed to re-enter the Kingdom.

Our flight has a transit stop in Thailand. Can we get off the plane and spend a day in Bangkok?

No. At this time all transits require passengers to remain on the plane. There may be some situations where they deplane passengers but you will be restricted to a section of the airport.

Can I get a job, get a new visa and stay in Thailand?

Maybe, possibly. Jobs for foreigners are thin on the ground at the moment. Outside of teaching English (there will always be jobs for English teachers in Thailand), most companies are cutting staff right now, rather than employing. You would need to secure a letter of offer from your new employer and visit you local immigration office to discuss the matter urgently, before September 26.

Can I fly back to my country and get a new Non B visa, and then return to Thailand?

In theory, yes. But it will take some good planning and a dose of luck for the plan to be successful. Theo did it… HERE’s the link to his story. You will certainly need to do a 14 day quarantine upon your return and the capricious nature of various embassy and immigration officials could make the many steps to get all the paperwork a nightmare.

What about other tropical holiday spots?

Island economies, dependent on tourism – from Bali in Indonesia, to Hawaii in the US – grapple with the pandemic, which has brought global travel to a virtual halt. World aviation has dropped by 97% (last month compared year-on-year). Re-opening to tourists has led to the resurgence of infection in some places like the Caribbean island of Aruba, and governments are fearful of striking the wrong balance between public health and economic reality. Even The Maldives, which confidently re-opened for tourism, has had a recent surge of new cases and forcing the government to rethink its plans.

Ibiza and the other popular Spanish party islands, are also devastated by the current Covid situation.

Can I travel to Thailand for medical Tourism?

Yes. Even though Thailand’s borders are still closed to most travel, including tourism, there are some select groups being allowed back into the Kingdom. Medical tourists are one of those groups but, for most countries, ONLY for urgent or emergency medical matters. Foreign medical tourists are now permitted to apply to come to Thailand for medical treatment with strict disease control measures being put in place.

BUT, and there’s always a ‘but’ at the moment, some countries will not permit its citizens to travel outside of their home countries, even for medical emergencies. In all cases, you would need to consult your local Royal Thai Embassy to find out if you are eligible, before you book a flight or sing a contract with a medical provider in Thailand.

Under the CCSA regulations, foreign medical and wellness tourists have to arrive by air to ensure effective disease control, not via land border checkpoints at this stage.

“Those seeking cosmetic surgery and infertility treatments will be allowed to enter the country. Those seeking Covid-19 treatment are barred.”

If you’d like to investigate coming to Thailand at this time, go to MyMediTravel to browse procedures and check out your options.

Spokesperson Dr. Taweesilp Visanuyothin says the visitors must have an appointment letter from a doctor in Thailand and entry certificates issued by Thai embassies across the globe. People wanting to visit Thailand for medical procedures at this time will need to contact the Thai Embassy in their country to organise the visa and paperwork. Thailand’s major hospitals will provide potential candidates with an appointment letter.

They will also need to produce proof that they tested negative for Covid-19 before their arrival. Once in Thailand they will be tested again and will required to stay at the medical facility for at least 14 days, during which they will be able to start their chosen treatments.

The CCSA says that medical procedures will only be allowed for foreigners at hospitals that have been registered to provide the treatments and have proven their ability to contain any potential outbreak. Potential patients will only be allowed to bring a total of 3 family members or caretakers during their visit to Thailand. Caretakers will have to go through the same screening procedures as the patient.

Embassies and participating hospitals will be able to provide more information about procedures, facilities, paperwork requirements and arrival options.

Again, MAKE SURE you consult the Royal Thai Embassy in your home country before proceeding with any medical tourism pans.

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