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Renting out rooms daily or weekly? You better read this.

The Thaiger

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Renting out rooms daily or weekly? You better read this. | The Thaiger

SCREENGRAB: AirBnB website

Illegal short-term holiday rentals, advertised and promoted by online portals like AirBnB, are coming under increasing scrutiny from authorities. Although there has been laws preventing short-term property rentals acting as ‘hotels’, the law has been loosely enforced with some condo developments around the country acting as defacto hotels and listing in many online booking websites.

In May 2018, a court in Hua Hin ruled it was illegal for people to rent out their condos or rooms on a daily or weekly basis.

While AirBnB was not specifically mentioned in the Hua Hin court case, the home-share system has grown to the point where Thailand’s legally registered hotels are calling foul.

There has been some lumpy enforcement and crackdowns around the country since specific laws came into place in 2016. Some AirBnB community members have been seeking clarification from the home-sharing site on the legal status – listing and renting rooms to paying customers in Thailand.

Earlier this month, authorities in Pattaya arrested seven individuals for operating what were described as illegal hotels (lacking permits or failure to abide reporting laws). Just one of the properties was an apartment building.

The latest court ruling was citied in a letter from the local district office to the owner of Wan Vayla Condo complex in Hua Hin identifying the ruling in three cases where condominiums were rented out for less than a month.

In 2017, owners at a condo in the centre of Chiang Rai complained to the city authorities that one of the owners was renting units on a daily basis. A British citizen, he owned the ground floor restaurant, a travel agency and units on the second floor. The city posted a notice ordering him to end all daily rentals, or face prosecution. He closed the entire floor and shuttered the ground floor shops and restaurant.

Alarm bells are now ringing if you rent out a room on a daily or weekly basis and don’t have a hotel license. The law is designed to protect registered hotels and has been on the books for a considerable time and there examples of it being more rigorously enforced since 2016, across-the-board.

In the past, hotel and tourism legislation was largely ignored but not any more. That has changed possibly due to the rising popularity of AirBnB and other systems that have threatened the domination of hotels in the accommodation-rental industry. There has also been a pushback from apartment owners in building where units are rented out on a daily basis saying their condos are being used as a front for overseas companies to run virtual hotels without receptions, safety standards or staff.

Thailand’s hotel industry, through the Thai Hotel Association, has been lobbying to tighten the hotel law and enforce it more aggressively. Hotels are legally entitled to rent out rooms for daily, weekly and monthly rates.

The long-stay rental market is open to apartments and private residences that are not registered as hotels. Homestays come under a different ruling.

The law has been on the books for years, but that has not stopped AirBnB from amassing an inventory of 61,400 establishments across the country and earnings estimated at 4 billion baht from 1.2 million users in 2017.

AirBnB in Thailand claims its service is legal but have been less than helpful when one a property owner posted on its website’s community page a request for clarification. A year passed and no response.

“Our apartment building has recently put up threatening signs about short-term stays. The sign says ‘that day/week rental are illegal. It also states that travellers who do not report to the juristic person will be treated as a trespasser and reported to the nearest police station to be prosecuted by maximum law. It also asks other residents to notify the juristic office if they believe people are staying in the building on day/week rentals. As owners, I am not really worried about the sign. However I am worried about the effect on our guests.

Since the sign has been put up, the security guards are asking many more questions. The last guests who stayed with us said that they did not feel comfortable staying in the building.

Can you please advise what we should do as we want to keep a good relationship with Airbnb? We have stopped accepting bookings until we receive s advice. We could cancel all the bookings, but we would be penalized financially by your website and lose our super host status. Even if we are not breaking Thai law, the building could make the experience uncomfortable for our guests.”

AirBnB did not respond to community member questions and comments on this subject.

The Immigration Department also have specific requirements of hotels to report any foreign guest’s arrival. The unregistered properties fall through this reporting system making them a target of Thailand’s strict Immigration requirements.

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News

30 dolphins greet visitors to Similan Islands

Greeley Pulitzer

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30 dolphins greet visitors to Similan Islands | The Thaiger

Tourists were treated to the sight of a school of dolphins in the Similan Islands off the Phang Nga coast on Sunday.

Tour organisers said that around 30 dolphins swam close to the boat six or seven miles offshore, creating excitement for passengers. It was the first time dolphins had been seen in the vicinity since October 15.

The Similan Islands National Park director said they were bottlenose dolphins and were among several species now returning to the area following a five-year closure of the park for environmental rehabilitation. Food is again plentiful there for them, he said.

Tourists are forbidden to feed wildlife lest the free handouts alter the animals’ natural behaviour, and the park’s waters are also very sensitive to contamination from human disease and marine debris, according to the director.

SOURCE: nationthailand.com

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Asia leads the world in medical tourism

Greeley Pulitzer

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Asia leads the world in medical tourism | The Thaiger

Over the past ten years, Asia has become a favourite destination for medical tourism for people from around the world. Besides the white sand beaches, historic monuments and rich cultural legacy, healthcare in Asia is now a major attraction. From transplants and surgeries to dental procedures and botox, people are turning to Asia.

But what makes Asia the most popular destination? Some say lack of specialised treatments in their home countries or the affordable cost of treatment in Asia: these combined with ease of travel and lax visa rules for medical treatment have opened vast avenues for the region.

In 2017, some one million medical tourists visited Malaysia and 3.3 million visited Thailand. India too saw a surge from 4,27,014 medical tourists in 2016 to 4,95,056 in 2017.

Here’s a look at the top Asian countries for various medical treatments:

Thailand is popular for breast implants and gender reassignment surgeries. Since 2003, the Thai Government has taken steps to make Thailand a global centre for medical tourism through its Centre of Excellent Health Care of Asia initiative, and now has 37 Joint Commission International (JCI) accredited hospitals.

A 2016 WHO study revealed that medical tourists visiting Thailand were more likely to be residents of the eastern Mediterranean or south-east or south Asia. However, what makes the country a preferred destination is its world-class hospitality, highly specialised care and tailored care packages.

India is a favoured destination due to its its advanced technology, world-class surgeons and cost-effective treatments. Patients visit India not just for specialised treatment and surgeries but for routine check-ups as well.

India amended e-visa rules for 150 countries in 2016, making visa procurement easy for foreigners. India’s National Health Policy specifies that the government supports medical tourism and issues visas patients’ accompanying spouses.

Singapore is a choice for patients seeking state-of-the-art facilities, well trained doctors and quality care. Although it is one of the most expensive cities in the world, the city-state has more than 15 hospitals catering to medical tourists. Singapore was ranked the most attractive among seven Asian countries in terms of “patient experience”, but was also one of the least attractive in terms of cost-effectiveness.

Malaysia is picking up the pace and is a preferred destination for people from other Asian countries, especially Indonesia. Of one million medical tourists who visited the country in 2017, 600,000 were from Indonesia.

According to the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council, Malaysia has set a target of at least one million medical tourists from Indonesia by 2020. Since the health ministry regulates the prices that private hospitals charge in Malaysia, quality care at affordable prices lures patients from across Asia and the world.

World-famous for its beauty clinics, South Korea’s ambitions go beyond cosmetic surgery. According to the South Korea Ministry of Health and Welfare, about 3,64,000 foreign medical tourists visited the country in 2016, including patients from Canada, the USA, UAE, China and Japan.

South Korea’s healthcare system is considered one of the best in Asia and has established a niche in the medical technology industry. To promote medical tourism, the government offers a special visa to medical tourists and insurance that covers both injury and death resulting from medical treatment or procedures.

SOURCE: nationthailand.com

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Bangkok

10 billionaires among Thailand’s 500 MPs

Greeley Pulitzer

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10 billionaires among Thailand’s 500 MPs | The Thaiger

Thailand has 10 billionaire MPs, while the poorest MP has just 5,064 baht in his bank account, according to reports from the Office of the National Anti-Corruption Commission.

Of the 10 billionaire MPs, Mrs. Nathee Ratchakitprakarn, of the Bhumjaithai Party, wife of Tourism and Sports Minister Pipat, is the richest, with declared assets of about 4.675 billion baht.

The other nine billionaire MPs are:

Mr. Anutin Charnvirakul, Bhumjaithai party leader, deputy prime minister and public health minister, with 4.249 billion baht (including two planes, two boats, Buddha images worth 121 million baht and 395 million baht in bank deposits)

Bhumjaithai MP for Satun province, Mr. Piboon Ratchakitprakarn, with 2.342 billion baht

Mr. Suriya Juangroongruangkit, industry minister and Palang Pracharat MP, at 2.198 billion baht

Mr. Apichaiubon, Democrat party-list MP, with assets of 2.048 billion baht

Mr. Nataphol Teepsuwan, Palang Pracharat party-list MP and education minister, with 1.985 billion baht

Khunying Kalaya Sophonpanich, deputy education minister and Democrat party-list MP, with 1.785 billion baht

Ms. Supamat Issarapakdi, Bhumjaithai party-list MP, who has 1.609 billion baht

Mr. Kittisak Khanasawat, Pheu, Thai MP for Maha Sarakham, with 1.529 billion baht

Democrat party-list MP Korn Chatikavanich, with 1.097 billion baht

PM’s Office Minister and Chart Pattana party-list MP Tewan Liptapallop, who has 1.03 billion baht

House Speaker Chuan Leekpai has assets of about 8 million baht

Of the 500 MPs, it appears that Mr. Phisanu Polatee, Bhumjaithai, MP for Pathum Thani province, has the least assets. There was, at the time reporting, only 5,064 baht in his bank account.

Earlier, he reported that he earned 14,000 baht a month from the Provincial Administration Organization. His earnings as an MP since May totaled 829,700 baht. He said he is living in the house of his mother and the car that he has been driving belongs to a friend.

Several MPs have not yet declared their assets to the NACC’s Office, including Future Forward party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and Future Forward MPs Pannika Wanich and Pitha Limcharonrat.

SOURCE: thaipbsworld.com

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