A surprisingly large number of non-Thais are still residing in Greater Pattaya and the rest of Chonburi according to latest reports.
The largest single group are 155,000 mainly manual workers from Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos who are recruited and registered by the Foreign Worker Employment Agency. Jessataporn Sriboo, who heads up the agency in Chonburi province, said, “Under the Memorandum of Understanding or MOU, drawn up by these governments with Thailand, these workers are employed in construction, fishing and the retail sector and can remain in Thailand for up to two years at a time.”
Another group – mostly Europeans, Americans and Australians with a growing number of Russians and east Asians – are holders of one year extensions of stay.They are mostly retirees and those married to Thais, but those with student visas or work permits issued by the Labour Office should also be included.There are also aliens with the Elite visa which offers between five and twenty years stay on payment of a substantial cash fee.Immigration sources say there are around 15,000 people with these various permissions currently in Chonburi province.
A third group are farang tourists who became trapped in Pattaya following the cancellation of many international flights.Before the current lockdown, Pattaya mayor Sonthaya Kunplome estimated this number to be about 2,400 and they are the targeted group to have benefitted from the visa amnesty which now lasts until the end of July.This number will likely have reduced somewhat.
There are no “new” tourists at present as Thai airports and border posts are closed to non-Thais and most Pattaya hotels have temporarily closed.There are also road checks in or near Pattaya to try and ensure that only those with an address in Pattaya, or legitimate reason to travel, here can enter the city limits.
A final miscellaneous group are local tourists from countries adjacent to Thailand who cannot return home because borders are still closed. These are mostly Cambodian and Myanmar citizens not working in Thailand. Thus final tally of all non-Thais resident in Chonburi province is currently around 180,000, according to Mr Sriboo and local police sources.
Bangkok immigration authorities confirm that they believe many short-term visitors and long stay expats do not wish to leave Thailand at present.Even if flights are available, they will likely face quarantine on arrival in their first country with the certain prospect of not being able to return to Thailand until the government cancels its ban on non-Thais entering the country.