Pattaya Grapevine: Retirement visa stampede


Retirement visa stampede
Many holders of O/A retirement visas and extensions of stay, which require medical insurance on an ongoing basis, are now leaving the country without a re-entry permit in order to cancel their permission. They then return with a 30 days visa exempt or a 60 days tourist visa and apply at immigration for a three months O visa plus the 12 months extension. In this way they avoid any and all insurance requirements from start to finish.

Dual pricing downside
The government encouragement to promote more expensive hotel rooms for foreigners, compared with Thais, is just about the worst thing to do from an international marketing point of view. On the domestic front, expect expats to book accommodation in the names of Thai wives and friends. The move is also impractical as market forces dictate hotel prices.

Another tourist app
The tourist police have launched yet another app promising 24/7 help for tourists with a problem. It’s called the ILert U Mobile and is linked to the tourist police hotline 1155 with its translators. The tourist police launch a similar idea every couple of years. What happened to the earlier Buddy concept and the proposal that you could summon assistance from any 7/11 convenience store?

Baht on the rebound
Compared with regional currencies, the baht hasn’t been doing too badly. Its value has been pressurized by the US hawkish benchmark rate hike, investors’ rush to hold the dollar and fears of a global recession. The recent growth in international arrivals should help the baht as the current account deficit improves too.

Surprising pound
Those predicted that Brexit would result in pound-dollar parity by mid-2022 have certainly been proved wrong. It is now hovering around 43 baht which, historically, is where it has often been stationed. Boris Johnson’s resignation also helped to push up the pound by around half a cent. Summer tourists will want to salute you Boris.

Indians the tops
Indians accounted for the highest number of arrivals this year with 250,000 setting foot in the first six months of the year. The tourist ministry reports that the actual total of all arrivals worldwide has been 2.2 million who have generated 125 billion baht in revenue. Meanwhile the government is being pushed to extend the 15 days visa on arrival and the 30 days visa exempt to 45 days.

Pattaya traffic woes
As Pattaya loses its ghost town image at last, the traffic queues at major intersections are getting worse. A slow but steady increase in the number of tour buses is accompanied by mammoth road repairs. Some huge holes are being covered up hurriedly, but no guarantee they won’t be opened up again soon. The next major flooding will show the truth.

Potted pot for sale
Many types of dry cannabis pods are being openly sold in Pattaya and elsewhere. That’s to be expected now that the drug has been removed from the country’s narcotics list. But the public health authority says it’s illegal to sell to anyone under 20 years old, nor as ready-rolled cigarettes. Smoking cannabis is banned outright.

Digital nomads’ plight
Although Thailand is a popular hub for remote workers, there is still no specific visa regulation to cover most of them because of a stipulation they must earn US$80,000 in a two-year period. Most digital nomads don’t want to be bothered with detailed regulations and mostly survive on tourist visas whilst keeping their heads down. There’s a nod and a wink from the authorities.

Fifth injection
A reader asks where he can get a fifth anti-Covid jab after the two basics and two boosters. No authoritative source has suggested we all do that and it’s far from clear that a fifth will deter attacks from the latest mutant variants. But some private hospitals will likely agree to a further shot if you pay the cash provided three months have elapsed since your last jab. Up to you.