Thailand News Today | Thai government approves 10 year visa program

The 10-year visa scheme for wealthy foreigners and skilled professionals was approved in principle by the Thai Cabinet, targeting foreign investors, highly-skilled professionals and wealthy retirees.

Experts say the 10-year visa scheme for wealthy foreigners and skilled professionals should help fill the country’s anticipated shortage of digital workforce talent and boost the Thai economy.

Chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries, Supant Mongkolsuthree, told reporters that engineers and IT experts should be given priority when applying for the new long-stay visa scheme.

And according to managing director at Krungsri Finnovate under the Bank of Ayudhya แซม ตันสกุล, the visa scheme could help draw in more professionals specialized in blockchain, data science, and artificial intelligence, and help fill the anticipated shortage of an estimated 50,000 to 100,000 jobs in the digital workforce.

The rate of around 10,000 technology graduates each year is not enough to keep up with the growing demand in the digital workforce, he adds. More people in the technology workforce is also seen to be a benefit to local startups.

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And while plans for the 10-year visa scheme are moving forward, proposals to increase the foreign ownership quota for condominiums and the maximum lease for foreigners were rejected by Thailand’s Centre for Economic Situation Administration.However, the proposal to allow foreigners to hold ownership of one rai of land for residential purposes was agreed in principle.

In itsc meeting, chaired by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, officials decided to scrap the proposals for an extension of leasehold rights to the current maximum of a 30-year lease for expats to a 50-year lease as well as an increase of the foreign ownership quota for condominiums, which is currently set at 49%.

Some say the foreign ownership quotas are still not being reached, so that rejected proposal won’t have much impact. An executive from real estate developer AP Thailand told reporters that even in the expat-dense cities of Bangkok and Phuket, properties are not hitting the 49% quota.

The chairperson of property consultant CBRE Thailand said that the government should reconsider the proposal to extend leasehold rights from 30 years to 50 years as it would make investments in large-scale projects more attractive. Foreigners cannot buy houses on a freehold basis, so a longer leasehold would potentially increase demand in the low-rise housing market.

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Yesterday, the revamped Test & Go scheme opened for new applications as 46 international flights, carrying around 2,500 passengers, landed at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport.

Most arrivals were from neighboring countries, including Singapore and Malaysia, with some coming from Europe. As part of the revamped entry scheme, hotels are now required to send drivers to the airport at least an hour before guests land, in an effort to reduce congestion.

It remains to be seen how successful (or not) Test & Go Version 2 is – or, as some have called it, Test & Go & Come Back & Test & Go Again (and that’s assuming one doesn’t contract Covid in between tests).

All arrivals are now required to take a PCR test on day 1 upon arrival and again on day 5. This in ADDITION to the PCR test they will have taken 72 hours before leaving their home country. For the day 1 and day 5 tests, they must also show proof of paid bookings at SHA Plus hotels, where they must wait in their room until they receive a negative test result.

If social media is to be believed, would-be foreign tourists have scoffed at the new rules and are touting the Philippines, Cambodia, and several other destinations as better alternatives. However, several Facebook groups for Thailand Pass or Sandbox applicants would indicate there’s no shortage of people currently planning their trips to the kingdom.

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As part of the revamped Test & Go entry scheme, hotels are now required to confirm Thailand Pass bookings within 30 hours or applications will be rejected automatically.

Hotels must verify room bookings and PCR test appointments with the Foreign Ministry in order for a Thailand Pass application to be approved. governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand ยุทธศักดิ์ สุภสร, says the new rule has been introduced to ensure the testing requirement is being met in all cases.

He added that “The re-opening of the Test & Go scheme depends on monitoring 100% of the PCR results, and the TAT has to encourage more tourists to download the MorChana app.”

ศิริปกรณ์ เชี่ยวสมุทร from the TAT added that currently, there 39 provinces around the country that have a total of 2,247 SHA Extra Plus hotels. In the case of locals and expats who can’t find such a hotel in their province of residency, they’ll need to travel to a nearby province.

Meanwhile, มาริสา สุโกศล หนุนภักดี from the Thai Hotels Association says that while the day 5 PCR test may be necessary in the early days of Test & Go, eventually the requirement should be lifted or replaced with an antigen test kit.

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The police officer who sped his Ducati motorcycle through Bangkok and struck and killed an eye doctor walking on a zebra crossing is now facing a total of nine charges, but the victim’s parents say the charges are still too light and they are concerned there won’t be justice for their daughter.

Officer นรวิชญ์ บัวดก was driving his Ducati motorcycle between 108 and 128 kilometres per hour when he hit Dr. วราลัคน์ สุภวัตรจริยากุล who was walking on the zebra crossing on Phaya Thai Road on January 21. Waraluck worked as an ophthalmologist at the faculty of medicine at Chulalongkorn University on Phaya Thai Road. She was just days away from her 34th birthday.

The charges Norrawit faces include…

Reckless driving causing death
Speeding
Violating the Road Traffic Act by driving a vehicle without a registration plate
Failure to keep motorcycle in the left lane
Failure to give pedestrians the right-of-way at a crosswalk
Violating the Car Act by using a vehicle with unpaid yearly tax
Using an incomplete vehicle (His motorbike didn’t have a rearview mirror)
Using a vehicle without third-party insurance as is indicated in the Car Accident Act of 1992
Driving without regard for others’ safety

After talking to the police at the Phraya Thai station, the doctor’s parents were interviewed by Thai media about the updates on the case. According to reports, the father says the charges are still too light and the mother is worried that they won’t get justice. The father added that he wants his daughter’s case to lead to stricter enforcement of traffic laws to prevent similar accidents in the future.

Phraya Thai Police Colonel Borwonpop Sunthornrekha also gave an interview with Thai media. He shared that information, witnesses, and evidence will be collected and submitted to prosecutors by February 11.

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A Greek family on a trip to Phuket claims around 200,000 baht in cash was stolen. Thai media reports that the family of five is asking for the money to be returned and are even promising to give the thief 500 euros if they return the cash.

The family filed a report with the police and asked the hotel to check the surveillance camera footage, but there have been no new developments. They asked a longtime Thai friend to help spread the word. The friend made a post on Facebook sharing the family’s story.

According to the post, the family had decided to move their money to the car while the hotel maid cleaned the room. They didn’t have a safe in the room, so they assumed keeping the money in the car would be safe, but they forgot to lock the car and their cash went missing.

The family also printed out a message in Thai and stuck it on the rental car. The note says in Thai “To the one who took my money, we have children, and now we are in a hard time. Please bring our money back. We promise that we won’t report to the police and will give you 500 euros.”

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