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Thailand News Today | Survey shows a third of tourism businesses are broke or shut down | January 25

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For those who need to extend their tourist visa, the Thai Immigration Bureau is asking that applicants make an appointment online to reserve their spot. The bureau says the online appointments will help with preventing the spread of Covid-19 by reducing overcrowding and making sure people abide by social distancing practices.

And you thought it was about increasing efficiency.

Applicants who need to extend a tourist visa, or extend their new Special Tourist Visa, should make an online reservation at bangkokimmigration.com.  Walk-in services are still available at Muang Thong Thani Temporary Services Centre.

The announcement didn’t clarify about online queues for other immigration centres around the country. A quick phone call before you head in for your extension is probably a good idea.

Police arrested 3 people for allegedly recruiting Thai women to work overseas in the UAE where they were forced into prostitution. The suspects allegedly told the women that they would work as masseuses, promising good pay and assuring them that the work did not involve sex, according to the Department of Special Investigations.

The women signed an agreement before travelling to the UAE, promising to pay back their travel expenses. Once they arrived, they went straight to a massage parlour in Dubai and their passports taken away. Some were taken to a brothel in Abu Dhabi.

The suspects, whose names have been withheld, were charged with colluding to violate anti-human trafficking regulations as well as detaining or depriving others of their freedom. One suspect was arrested in Chon Buri and the other 2 were arrested in Ubon Ratchathani.

Provincial governors in Thailand’s farming areas are being told to mitigate the burning off of agri-business waste by farmers in their provinces. The annual burn-offs are the biggest cause of the December to April air pollution in Bangkok and Central Thailand which lie in the wake of the light north-easterly breezes this time of the year. The burn-offs partly co-incide with the lighter annual north-easterly monsoons.

A spokesman for Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan, has been one of the first to openly admit that the agri-fires are the common denominator in the capital’s annual smog woes.

Over recent decades Bangkok’s Pollution Control department has trotted out any number of PR stunts, including water-spraying drones and asking temples to stop lighting josh sticks to stop the smog.

Now that spokesperson says that the accumulation of PM2.5 micron dust in the atmosphere is… “mainly caused by outdoor burning of waste, especially on farms, combined with poor air circulation, and has been posing a health risk for the past several days”.

Deputy PM Prawit has now ordered all provincial governors to send teams to warn farmers to stop the burning or face prosecution. It’s not the first order from the top directed at farmers trying to find cheap ways to get rid of agri-waste and prepare their plantations for the next crop. But, despite the ‘warnings’ in the past the practice has continued largely unenforced.

A Tourism Authority of Thailand survey, conducted between January 10 – 12, indicates that more than a third of the country’s tourism-related businesses has already shut up shop and gone out of business.

But industry players estimate the number is much higher. In regions almost solely relying on tourism for an income – Phuket, Pattaya, Koh Samui, the Gulf and Andaman islands and touristy areas around Bangkok – up to 90% of the front-line tourism businesses have closed.

1,884 tourism businesses in Thailand were surveyed by the TAT about their current situations and how they were coping with the long-term closure of the Thai borders and the local restrictions on travel. Businesses covered areas like accommodation, travel agents, tour companies, restaurants, car and bike rentals and public transport businesses.

34.7% officially declared they had already shut down or gone out of business.

Police say 2 men were gunned down at the Phuket Bus Terminal by a colleague at the terminal along the stretch of Thepkasattri road heading into Phuket Town on Saturday night. The incident happened at about 10:15pm with the local police chief arriving along with medical staff from Vachira Hospital shortly after the incident.

A 60 year old, the alleged gunman, was waiting to surrender at the scene when police arrived. Police say the man appeared to be drunk and told them he had a serious argument with the 2 men and decided to take their lives with his gun. Police found a 50 year old lying on the ground in front of a taxi service stand and a 54 year old lying dead by the counter of a 24 hour car park service kiosk. 

And police in Pattaya are investigating an Indian restaurant where they arrested 29 people attending a late night party in Soi 7. The incident took place just after midnight on Saturday evening at a 5 story building which had the first 3 floors closed off. Police say the venue was actually operating as a shisha lounge, pool hall, and bar.

 11 foreigners from India, Cambodia, and other countries were found at the venue. The remainder were Thai nationals. All 29 were arrested and taken to the Pattaya Police station where they will face charges under the Emergency Decree Act, the Communicable Disease Act and possession of an illegal substance.

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