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Tourist visa runs are not dead: Immigration boss

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Tourist visa runs are not dead: Immigration boss | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: Tourists who can prove that they are genuinely staying only short-term while travelling in Thailand will be allowed to leave on “visa-runs” and re-enter the country, Immigration Commissioner Pharnu Kerdlarpphon confirmed to the Phuket Gazette.

“Genuine tourists are fine. All they have to do is prove to the immigration officer at the border checkpoint that they really are tourists by presenting evidence such as their travel itinerary, hotel booking, tour bookings and any other documents to prove their travel in Thailand is genuine,” Lt Gen Pharnu said on Wednesday.

“Then they will be allowed to re-enter the country.”

Gen Pharnu clarified the focus of the new immigration regulation, which allows most foreigners to enter the country only once using visa-exempt status.

“The crackdown is all about preventing foreigners from using visa-exemptions and tourist visas to stay in Thailand and work,” Gen Pharnu said.

“We should have done this a long time ago. We have let foreigners work illegally in Thailand on tourist visas for too long. It’s time to stop them.”

The new regulation has nothing to do with ill-fated Malaysian Airlines Flight MH 370 and the passports from Phuket that were used to board the flight, the general added.

The immigration chief was clear that from August 13 any foreigners who fail to prove that they are tourists will not be allowed to re-enter the country on visa exemption status (story here), as explained in a formal notice posted on Bangkok Immigration’s website on May 8.

“From August 13, if we suspect any foreigner of working illegally in Thailand on a tourist visa, that person will be detained and deported, even if the foreigner has not previously completed even a single visa run,” he said.

“People who are deported will be banned from re-entering Thailand for five years, not forever. After that, the foreigner may appeal to re-enter the country.

“This is what we have been doing for years with foreigners who have been deported, and any foreigner who is added to our blacklist is issued a formal notice explaining what they have done wrong.”

Gen Pharnu noted that immigration officers were ordered to give special attention to Russians, South Koreans, Vietnamese and Chinese attempting to extend their stays by completing visa runs.

Ranong Immigration Superintendent Ekkorn Bussababordin confirmed to the Gazette on May 12 that foreigners will continue to be allowed to re-enter Thailand on three consecutive “walk-in” visas until August 12.

As reported in the Gazette last week, after August 12, such foreigners risk being stranded in Myanmar (story here).

The May 8 order, posted in Thai, stated that the new rule is to come into effect at all immigration checkpoints, including airports.

“Thailand is open to all tourists,” Gen Pharnu said, “but we will not allow illegal workers. If you want to work here please do the right thing. Apply for a business visa and live here legally.”

— Chutharat Plerin

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Thailand

Thai Airways to resume flights from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and Phuket

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thai Airways to resume flights from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and Phuket | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai Airways

After nearly 9 months on the ground due to the coronavirus pandemic, along with problems balancing their accounts, Thai Airways will resume flights between Bangkok and Chiang Mai as well as Bangkok and Phuket later this month. The flights will start back up on Christmas day.

Flights from Bangkok to the 2 key tourist provinces have been grounded since April 1. Starting December 25, the airline will run 3 flights a week on both routes. A source told the Bangkok Post that the new schedules will run until at least February 28.

Thai Lion Air, Thai Air Asia, Nok Air, Thai Smile, VietJet Air and Bangkok Airways have returned to the domestic skies since July and slowly adding frequency to their routes.

In addition to resuming the domestic flights, the Thai Airways is relaunching some international flights from January 1 to March 27 including weekly flights to Frankfurt, London, Copenhagen, Sydney, Seoul, Manila, Taipei and Osaka. Flights from Bangkok to Tokyo will be available 3 times a week and flights from Bangkok to Hong Kong will be available every day.

Thai Airways has been tackling bankruptcy throughout the lockdown and trying to make up for more than 300 billion baht in losses. Since many flights were suspended due to travel restrictions, Thai Airways has tried to make money by business ventures on the ground, like a pop-up restaurant serving in-flight meals and selling off unwanted equipment from their warehouse. There also disposing of much of their older fleet, including all of their Boring 747-400s.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

97 police officers investigated for fiddling Covid-19 payments

Maya Taylor

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97 police officers investigated for fiddling Covid-19 payments | The Thaiger
PHOTO: www.newsbeezer.com

97 police officers, from 41 police stations, are currently being investigated for an alleged scam involving Covid-19 payments meant for officers who worked extra shifts during the crisis. The case was assigned by national police chief Suwat Jangyodsuk in November, when it came to light that some officers may have fraudulently claimed allowances meant for others.

In one incident, an officer responsible for transferring extra payments to police on the southern island of Phuket transferred the money to his own accountant instead. At the time, the transfer was dismissed as a mistake (in his favour), with the officer in question receiving a warning, and payments then made to the qualifying officers.

Wissanu Prasatthong-Osot from the National Internal Affairs Police says the investigation should reach a conclusion within the next 10 days.

“The result of the investigation should be ready in 10 days. Currently, 97 officers in 41 police stations ranging from non-commissioned to generals are under investigation for being involved in the swindle. The bureau aims to provide justice to all policemen involved. After the investigation concludes, the victims will receive their full allowance, while the offending officers will be punished under the law and disciplinary standards.”

Nation Thailand reports that a full list of alleged offenders has been sent to Suwat, with Wissanu promising that none will escape prosecution.

“The National Police chief had also ordered the transfer of offending officers at the commander and sub-commander levels out of their areas as per the investigation procedures.”

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Tourism

Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce to propose Guangzhou-Phuket tourism route

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce to propose Guangzhou-Phuket tourism route | The Thaiger
PHOTO: 77 kaoded

A tourism route from Guangzhou, China to Phuket could help the island province recover from the recession brought on by the pandemic and lack of foreign travel, according to the Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce. The president of the organisation, Narongsak Puttapornmongkol, says they plan to submit a letter proposing the route under a travel bubble scheme to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

The Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce is proposing a travel bubble with around 20 cities in China with no recent coronavirus infections and considered to be at a low risk of spreading the virus. Travellers from Guangzhou recently entered Thailand on the new Special Tourist Visa. It was the second flight of international tourists since travel restrictions were imposed in late-March.

“We believe that the Travel Bubble and the quarantine reduction will resolve the tourism business, which is a huge economic opportunity to recover.”

Once a vaccine is widely available, Narongsak suggests that those who wish to Thailand could also present their vaccination certificate or examination reports from the place of origin. He adds that the mandatory state quarantine period is likely to be reduced.

SOURCE: Pattaya News

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