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Changes to visas to stimulate tourist sector

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Changes to visas to stimulate tourist sector | The Thaiger

The drop-off in Chinese tourists has caused the Thai Government to come up with some creative ideas to re-invigorate the tourist sector, leading into this year’s high season.

The Nation reports that the Cabinet yesterday agreed, in principle, to back measures to stimulate tourism numbers.

Tourism and Sports Minister Weerasak Kowsurat said the Cabinet gave the green light for the “Amazing Thailand Grand Sale Passport Privileges” from November 15 until January 15, 2019.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand will join the Finance Ministry to set additional special areas at tourism areas or department stores for tourists to facilitate convenient and quick refund of value added tax.

Nattaporn Jatusripitak, adviser to the Prime Minister’s Office, said that the Cabinet agreed, in principle, to review and offer relaxation to three types of visas with a two-month pilot period. The starting period will be determined by the Tourism and Sports Ministry after its study of the proper period and details.

Firstly, a single-entry visa will be allowed to be changed into a double-entry visa with travel required within six months at the same fee of 1,000 baht per person. The Cabinet also approved a re-entry permit to facilitate foreign tourists who visit Thailand’s neighbouring countries to return to Thailand without making another request.

Most foreigners are independent tourists who prefer to take a trip to Thailand’s main destinations and its neighbouring countries such as Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia. The re-entry permit for the rest of the visa will help promote tourism in Thailand and Asean and satisfy this group of foreign tourists.

The Interior Ministry regulation will be amended to allow foreigners who receive a visa waiver for 30 days and travel into Thailand via land immigration checkpoints or land border checkpoints to enter the country with an unlimited number of visa waivers per calendar year.

Based on a database of the Tourism and Sports Ministry, nearly 5 million foreign tourists travelled through land-border checkpoints of Thailand in 2017, up 3 per cent from the previous year.

A number of foreigners stay and work in Thailand’s neighbouring countries.

These foreigners come from Singapore, Japan, France and the United States and like to travel to Thailand for shopping, leisure, sports competitions and healthcare.

These measures aim to maintain Thailand’s tourism revenue at not less than the targeted growth of 12 per cent in 2019, or about 2.28 trillion baht.

SOURCE: The Nation

Thailand

Smoking at home in Thailand has been banned from today

Tanutam Thawan

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Smoking at home in Thailand has been banned from today | The Thaiger

The ban on smoking at home in Thailand comes into effect today. From today people can be prosecuted for “domestic abuse” by lighting up a cigarette inside a home.

People can call Family and Protection centres on 1300 to report a smoker.

According to the new law, women and children are often the recipients of second hand smoke and the new legislation and fines is designed to assist in protecting them from the harmful effects of cigarette smoke.

Speaking to Manager Online, Dr Ronachai Khongsakon from a tobacco research group, says that women were particularly vulnerable with 81% suffering second hand smoke in their homes. He claims that 430,000 people die worldwide annually from second hand smoke, and that two out of three of the victims are women.

The ‘Report a Smoker’ hotline is 1300. Cases may then be referred to juvenile and other courts. The government says the move is the latest measure to stop people smoking in Thailand in public places, and now in their homes in the presence of other people.

Smoking has already been banned at airports, including the internal ‘smoking rooms’, now replaced with rooms outside terminals for smokers. Smoking on many Thai beaches was banned back in February 2018.

There is an estimated 10 million smokers in Thailand resulting in 72,000 deaths annually.

SOURCE: Manager Online

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Thai Life

Thai Government seeks public opinion on civil same-sex union bill

Tanutam Thawan

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Thai Government seeks public opinion on civil same-sex union bill | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Chiang Rai Times

The Thai justice minister is insisting that draft legislation for civil partnerships of same-sex couples won’t be rushed and that the department is waiting for public feedback on the proposal.

Justice Minister Somsak Thepsutin says the process will take time as it requires “careful deliberation to prevent any misunderstanding”.

Somsak made the comments yesterday whilst chairing a forum on the Bill. The Bill was agreed in principle on December 25, 2018 and relevant departments are now working on a final draft. The Bill will need to be passed by the new Lower House but there is no timeline on the legislation reaching the House at this stage.

The Justice Ministry is holding public forums to evaluate public opinion on some of the legislation’s contentious issues.

• The Bill stipulates conditions for terminating registration of civil partnerships.

• The Bill fails to include the right for same-sex couples to adopt children or the right to receive state welfare benefits, even though same-sex couples have the right to adopt children under the existing Child Adoption Act.

• Those who register for civil partnership must be a minimum of 17 years old and obtain their parental consent. 

• Feedback on the Bill must be sent back to the Council of State by next month for a final draft to be prepared for Cabinet.

Speaking in the third person, Somsak said “The Justice Ministry will neither rush nor put the brakes on the Bill.”

The Civil Partnership Bill doesn’t allow same-sex couples to marry but it would grant partners the legal right to jointly own and manage assets, and to give or receive inheritances.

Activists, on both side of the argument, are critical of the Bill. On one side same-sex GLBT proponents say it doesn’t provide same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples. On the other, critics say the Bill would reduce the ‘value’ and ‘values’ of marriage in Thailand.

But supporter say the Bill is a first step towards equality in Thailand.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Expats

Thai Department proceeds with crackdown on shameless price gouging on medications

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Thai Department proceeds with crackdown on shameless price gouging on medications | The Thaiger

Despite a lot of resistance from the local Thai private hospital networks, The Department of Internal Trade says they will proceed with its crackdown to control prices of medicines now that it has received their price lists.

Once legislation is enacted, hospitals selling medicines above the median price set by the department will face fines and/or imprisonment. Since August 16, every hospital has been required to print out QR codes so patients can compare prices.

Many Thai private hospitals have been price gouging patients for medications sold through their in-house dispensaries for years, sometimes inflating prices for prescription medications up to 3,000% the price of a local pharmacy.

Prayoth Benyasut, the department’s deputy director-general, says private hospitals, manufacturers, importers and dealers provided the department with their price lists on July 31, and DIT has used this data to set a price for each item, which will be made accessible to customers.

“If hospitals are not able to explain why a medicine is overpriced, they will be fined 140,000 baht or be imprisoned for seven years, or face both a jail term and fine.”

The DIT says it will summon 20 private hospitals to testify after they failed to meet the July 31 deadline to provide their price lists.

“If they don’t show up, they will face three months in jail and/or fined 5,000 baht. Those who have failed to provide complete data will be fined 2,000 baht, while those that have failed to respond to the deadline will be fined 20,000 baht and/or imprisoned for a year.”

The DIT will release a list of pharmacies on its official website, www.dit.go.th, so people can have their prescriptions filled there, though this option is still being considered by the Pharmacy Council of Thailand.

The department has also sent its agents to check if private hospitals are displaying the QR codes. People can also check the price of drugs on the www.hospitals.dit.go.th website, according to The Nation.

Private hospitals will also be required to follow the Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking’s notification on regulations on drugs, medical supplies and medical services, which insists that patients be provided with estimated costs before they are admitted to hospital. Hospitals are also required to provide patients with prescriptions that have clear information and instruction.

SOURCE: The Nation

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