Editorial: Why Thailand should extend the visa amnesty for those foreigners still in the country past July

By: Adam Judd, Co Owner of the Pattaya News

As we get closer to July here at the Pattaya News we are getting asked daily about the visa amnesty currently allowing those in the country to stay, many stuck for months and unable to go home, and if it will be renewed at the end of July.

The Thai Government has said nothing about this subject and is not likely to do so until closer to the end of July, likely the second or third week of that month.

However, in my opinion I believe we should extend that amnesty but not for the reasons most think.

Immigration officials who we have spoken to previously about the amnesty stated the primary reason for the amnesty was because tens and tens of thousands of tourists and others could not return to their countries due to lack of flights. They also could not do border runs due to borders being closed.

That hasn’t really changed much, although it is technically true that some stuck here likely can get a flight home if they chose to. Outbound flights to some countries are still regularly taking place. In almost every case looking at the worldwide statistics, with some notable exceptions like Australia, going home is flying into a worse situation then Thailand is currently in.

We are read daily by officials with the local and national government here at The Pattaya News and so I want to suggest a different approach as we get closer to the amnesty date.

Let them stay. Possibly another three months until the end of October. You are going to need them.

There are plenty of reasons to extend the amnesty, and likely plenty to end it. I understand the national security concerns, illegally working, crime etc. better than many but at this point those who have stayed here are mostly well known to immigration officials. I’m going to primarily focus on only one major reason to extend the amnesty however.

That reason is as it is looking more and more likely we won’t be allowing in a significant number of tourists or foreign Nationals for many more months to Thailand you will need those here with the financial means to stay. A three month stay to October, when things will likely open more, makes sense from a financial perspective.

Most people I know on amnesty want to stay. I don’t fall into the amnesty catagory but I know many who do. They are financially secure, self sufficient and feel safe in Thailand thanks to its overall excellent handling of the Covid-19 Coronavirus crisis. They love the country and want to continue to spend their money here and support it during this difficult time.

If you require all those on amnesty to leave you would be likely setting up for an even more difficult fall then the summer. Without new tourists and visitors to replace those going home Thai Nationals and vendors already fighting to stay in business will be set back further in many industries and areas.

The amount of money spent by those still here overall may not be a huge percentage but at this point every baht counts. I do believe Immigration should ensure those with amnesty have the financial means and medical insurance or funds to stay and those broke and stuck here should be partnered with their embassy for assistance with going home. Nobody should be stranded.

However, if you want to promote domestic tourism, don’t forget the foreign Nationals, many tourists who have stayed during the Covid19 crisis, still here. As the country opens up many of them have disposable income and there has never been a better time to tour this beautiful country and support the economy then the upcoming months with lack of crowds and tourists.

Consider letting this group, estimated in the hundreds of thousands by the Thai Tourism Authority previously, stay if they wish and have the financial means proven to immigration. Not because they are stuck and cannot fly home but because you will need them and their support. It would also be a fantastic way to repair some of the damage done by certain places that went viral on the media for policies and signs for not allowing foreigners in.

Photos and article: Adam Judd, The Pattaya News. If reproduced please give original credit.

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