A messy reopening
Thailand is welcoming international tourists again, but there are many questions to answer. The take up from Europe or the USA is likely to be a slow start as the entry system is bureaucratic and the bars and clubs remain closed. Nobody yet has come up with an answer to how to sell Pattaya without alcohol. Maybe you can’t.
On October 31 the curfew ended, maybe allowing a few zombie parties on the beach to celebrate Halloween. In fact, the curfew was not withdrawn from all of Chonburi province but only from tourist areas including Banglamung, Sriracha, Pattaya City, Koh Si Chang, Jomtien and Ban Saray. Do the other districts know they have to be in bed by 11 pm? Probably not.
Track and trace issues
In theory all visitors will have downloaded the Thailand Plus tracing app so that their movements can be observed remotely. In practice, Pattaya has become very nonchalant about signing in procedures and temperature checks. Entrances to malls and supermarkets often lack security staff and customers who feel like giving information scribble their name and phone number on a clipboard.
Vaccine passport unnecessary
As long as your vaccine certificate, obtained from the place you were jabbed, gives full details of the brand and your personal ID, you don’t need additionally a separate yellow passport. No harm to have one but it adds nothing to the details on your certificate. Vaccine passports were important when diseases such as polio ravaged the world. They may have been overtaken by new technology.
The Vietnam model
The resort island of Phu Quoc, near the Cambodian border, is set to open later this month. International tourists must prove they are fully vaccinated and must travel in “tour groups.” Unlike Thailand, Vietnam is apparently not going for the individual high-rollers. Another difference is that medical insurance does not appear to be mandatory. Not yet anyway.
Not many Chinese in Pattaya
Beijing authorities are not encouraging Chinese nationals to travel abroad. A returning individual faces quarantine of between 14 and 21 days which is a huge disincentive. Chinese tour groups are not able to travel abroad until 70 percent of the population is fully vaccinated. That’s going to take many months yet.
Nonetheless, there is a huge untapped market in China. So far only about 10 percent of the population has applied for a passport. In the post pandemic world, this means that Pattaya is assured of its full quota of Chinese arrivals for the next 50 years. Tiffany, Alcazar, Nong Nooch and the like have an assured future. But they must hang on for a while yet.
Although we are reasonably clear now about the documentation needed to get into Thailand, extensions of stay at immigration are another matter. For example, will you need one of the US$50,000 insurance policies when you apply for a longer stay, or even a new one year? For the time being suck it and see.
Flat tyres galore
Pattaya garages are reporting a huge increase in the number of deflated and totally flat tyres on cars and trucks round the city. The main culprits appear to be nails and screws, often quite small, which lie in wait when you park by the roadside. Opinions differ on the reasons for the phenomenon, but the leading theory is that the heavy rains in October caused the metal bits to break cover. Maybe.
Choice of massages
A Brit writes on Facebook that he has experienced 40 massage parlors in Pattaya and been asked only in four if he wanted a special service, not on the menu, to make his day complete. He claims that this means the overwhelming number of massages in our fair city are as straight as a dye. Perhaps the local authority could hire him as a marketer for the reformed neo-Pattaya.