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Visa-fee waiver for 21 countries as tourism slump sparks panic

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Visa-fee waiver for 21 countries as tourism slump sparks panic | The Thaiger

by Kat Chanwanpen

Visitors from 21 countries are getting their visa-on-arrival fee waived for 60 days, starting December 1.

Amid declining numbers of visitors, notably from China, a desperate Cabinet yesterday agreed to waive the 2,000 baht visa-on-arrival fee for tourists from 21 countries for 60 days to try and revive one of the main engines of economic growth.

Meanwhile, the government’s economic minister, Deputy PM Somkid Jatusripitak, yesterday made a deal in Shanghai with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba to help promote Thailand as a tourist destination to Chinese people.

Tourists from 20 countries plus Taiwan, whose nationals are already entitled to a visa on arrival, will be able to enjoy the fee waiver. The duration of stay, however, will remain unchanged at 15 days.

Here’s the list of nationalities that will be able to take advantage of the visa-fee waiver…

Andorra, Bulgaria, Bhutan, China,  Cyprus, Ethiopia, Fiji, India, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Papua New Guinea, Romania, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Taiwan.

The proposal was made to the Cabinet by the Immigration Bureau to boost falling tourist numbers over the peak New Year holiday season.

Thailand has seen a continuous decrease in the number of tourists, more than 10 per cent over the past three months, said Government spokesman Puttipong Punnakanta.

The number of tourists coming through Suvarnabhumi Airport in 2016 were 2.2 million and in 2017, 3.1 million. But from January to September this year, the number had declined to 1.7 million, an enormous drop in tourist numbers flowing through the country’s largest airport.

It is hoped the visa-fee exemption will attract 30 per cent more tourists and help generate more income for the tourism industry and the entire economy, he said, while declining to estimate the loss in revenue from the visa-fee waiver.

In the past few years, Thailand has been a popular destination among Chinese tourists but due to the July boat tragedy in Phuket, which killed 47 people, the number of tourists from China has dropped significantly.

Observers in the industry said social media in China had been caning Thailand over the past few months, resulting in a decline in Chinese visitors. Comments on the boat tragedy made by Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan in the days following the tragedy, the crackdown on zero-dollar package tours as well as news of an outbreak of dengue in the Kingdom had made Chinese tourists wary, according to an expert on Chinese affairs.

Visa-fee waiver for 21 countries as tourism slump sparks panic | News by The Thaiger

The number of Chinese visitors dropped dramatically from 939,771 in July, when the boat tragedy took place, to 867, 461 in August, down 11.7 per cent, according to the Tourism and Sports Ministry.

Tour operators, hotels and restaurants in Phuket have confirmed that there were still no signs of Chinese tourists returning to the province. Some resorts are saying drop off of Chinese tourists is at least 50%, some cite declines of a much higher number. The lack of big Chinese tourist buses around the island, usually a noticeable part of the traffic flow around the island’s roads, have been noticably absent in the last two months.

In Pattaya, deputy mayor Poramet Ngampichet called a meeting with concerned agencies and stakeholders in the tourism sector to map out measures to boost visitor numbers following a sharp decline in tourists. Chinese are among the top visitors to Pattaya, totalling 2.5 million last year.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Somkid said yesterday that China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba had agreed to help promote Thai tourism. On November 11, or “11/11” – when Chinese people celebrate “Singles Day” – Alibaba will launch a 20 second video on its website to encourage Chinese tourists to travel to Thailand, he said.

The video is expected to reach as many as 800 million Chinese, Somkid said after his meeting in Shanghai yesterday with Alibaba’s executives, including its founder and president, Jack Ma.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand had already been instructed to create the video, Somkid said, adding he himself might be featured in the presentation to convey the message of convenience and safety in travelling to Thailand.

Visa-fee waiver for 21 countries as tourism slump sparks panic | News by The Thaiger Visa-fee waiver for 21 countries as tourism slump sparks panic | News by The Thaiger

Sort the exchange rate. Why is the baht so ridiculously over valued? For way too long! – JM

Waive visa fee is useless. Improve safety, services, efficiency is the key – AG

Do they seriously think 2000 will make or break someone’s decision to travel to another country 🤣 – MZS

Phuket and all other tourist places are over priced for the service and safety that it offers – LE

People come to experience Thailand from various countries and most have a great experience. Those who have visited it tell their friends at home how it was – AK

Surely it’s a kickback from a tourist industry that has grown extremely quickly and now puts off a lot of people looking for a nice quality location but only sees pile it high cheap as possible run down hotels and beaches full of Chinese and Russians . There are some stunning hotels in Phuket but they are far and few between and as soon as you walk outside these hotels you are confronted with mayhem and dangerous travelling conditions, the last taxi we used from the airport it became obvious the driver was stoned and we got out and walked the last bit but the company did send the boss to our hotel the next day with a refund . Guess that makes it all ok and never mind the next fate he picked up – GB

SOURCES: The Nation, The Thaiger



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Thai Life

ALERT: Amoxicillin use in Thai orange orchards

The Thaiger & The Nation

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ALERT: Amoxicillin use in Thai orange orchards | The Thaiger

The Thai Public Health Ministry is checking on pharmacies and antibiotics manufacturers that may have distributed amoxicillin (an antibiotic) for farms – reportedly used widely in northern and central orange orchards – as it could lead to drug resistance or even fatal allergies in humans as well as contaminating the environment.

Amoxicillin is an antibiotic often used for the treatment of a number of bacterial infections. It may be used for middle ear infection, strep throat, pneumonia, skin infections, and urinary tract infections among others. It is taken by mouth, or less commonly by injection – Wikipedia

A recent report highlighted the apparent long-standing use of amoxicillin injection into orange trees three to four times a year, to treat Citrus greening disease – caused by a bacteria spread by psyllid insects – and said that orange farmers did not realise the danger of the practice. The Ministry’s permanent secretary Dr Sukhum Kanchanapimai says that the abuse must be stopped.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Medical Sciences, along with respective health offices have begun to investigate in the jurisdictions involved.

FDA deputy secretary-general Dr Surachoke Tangwiwat said his agency had required respective provincial health offices to check on orange orchards for the distribution of amoxicillin to orange farmers and ensure that the sale of antibiotics is made only at pharmacies with pharmacists.

The agency also warned antibiotics manufacturers to distribute antibiotics to pharmacies and not directly to farmers or they will face legal actions.

Pharmacist Supanai Prasertsuk, coordinator for the pharmacists’ follow-up group for borderland medicine issues under the Drug System Monitoring and Development Centre, said his members had identified the issue of antibiotic use in fruit and vegetable farming in the North.

This misuse of amoxicillin – which is among the most-used antibiotics to treat infections in humans and must be prescribed by pharmacists – can lead to environmental contamination, especially at water sources.

The consumers’ secondary exposure to such medicine can lead to serious or even fatal reactions among those allergic to antibiotics, and the farmers’ direct exposure to such medicine that can lead to allergic reactions, Supanai said.

He said that farms would most likely not use antibiotic capsules but a chemical powder format, which can cause it to scatter. Although there was no research to confirm antibiotic contamination from the use in orange orchards, he said the sensible precaution was to stop such use.

The Public Health Ministry should check farmers’ physical conditions as well as samples from soil and water to study for a contamination, while farmers should shift to organic farming guidelines, Supanai said.

Supanai also urged the authority to check on the sale of chemicals (used in making amoxicillin) to farmers as such substances were also considered dangerous medicines. The sale of the drug by non-pharmacists violated the law so the sellers and manufacturers could be held accountable.

Supanai advised those allergic to amoxicillin to avoid consumption while those without allergies should refrain from consuming a large amount and to leave a seven-day gap between consumption.

SOURCE: The Nation

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Thaiger Radio News – Monday

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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US pedophile gets 10 years for sex with underage boys in Thailand

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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US pedophile gets 10 years for sex with underage boys in Thailand | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Convicted US kiddie-fiddler, Paul Alan Shapiro

A 71 year old Paul Shapiro has been sentenced to 10 years jail in the US after a California Court convicted him of pedophile charges in Thailand running back as far as 2012.

ThaiVisa reports that US citizen Paul Alan Shapiro was also ordered to pay $20,000 in compensation to two victims in Thailand in addition to his sentence.

The US District Judge, Dolly Gee, said Shapiro “exploited and targeted the most vulnerable of people; underage children.”

The Californian court heard how Thai police arrested Shapiro in 2012 engaging in a sex act with a boy in the toilet of a shopping mall. Shapiro had paid the 13 year old teenager 300 baht in order to engage in sex acts with him. He also photographed himself engaging in sexually explicit acts with his victims.

Following his arrest in 2012, Shapiro spent time in jail in Thailand but was pardoned in 2015 and deported back to the US to face charges, according to the Pattaya Mail at the time. After being deported back the US, he was remanded in custody in Los Angeles.

According to documents released by the US Department of Justice, Shapiro had been travelling to Thailand regularly over twenty years to engage in sexual acts with boys under the age of 16.

Shapiro, a retired auto dealership employee, had pleaded guilty a day before he was due to go to trial in July 2017. On Wednesday he was sentenced at the Central District of California.

Shapiro will serve 10 years in federal prison followed by 20 years of supervised release after his prison sentence. He will also pay $20,000 total to two victims, both citizens of Thailand.

SOURCE: ThaiVisa

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