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Thailand Weekly Vol. 19

Thailand news and stories delivered free every Sunday 🇹🇭

Happy Sunday everyone. We’ve decided to go back to the original format where the entire edition of Thailand Weekly is all included in a nice, simple email. We were just doing some testing (mostly on our end) and have determined that it’s a much more enjoyable read this way. Anyways, hope you all had an awesome weekend! The Tourism Authority of Thailand is a star in Volume 19 and you’ll quickly understand why. They’re making some big moves on all fronts, one of which includes a partnership with Airbnb. Hopefully you’re one sleep closer to your return to Thailand as one of our channel members (shoutout to Bob) loves to say! Cheers.

Airbnb x TAT To Make Life Easier For Digital Nomads In Thailand

Airbnb announced this past Friday that it is planning on working closely with Thailand’s Tourism Authority to make it easier for those living and working remotely here in the Kingdom. They reported that there are a number of different projects on the horizon, including the construction of a dedicated hub on their platform for Thailand that shows local long-stay listings, and up to date entry requirements and visa policies for remote workers. TAT reported that in the first quarter of this year, searches for long stays grew by more than 50% when compared to Q1 of 2019. It was also recently revealed that 1 in 5 people used Airbnb accommodations to travel and work remotely throughout 2021. This trend has continued into 2022 with global long-term stays on the platform more than doubling in volume since early 2019.

Thapanee Kiatphaibool, Deputy Governor of Domestic Marketing for TAT, welcomed the collaboration with Airbnb.

“Thailand has long been a top destination for remote workers and long-term travelers globally. Strong local infrastructure, community access, and a wide variety of unique accommodations for longer stays continue to attract visitors around the world, as well as our warm hospitality and unique culture. As we look to rebuild the country’s tourism sector and accelerate recovery, we are honoured to partner with Airbnb on its global Live and Work Anywhere initiative to attract long-term travelers to Thailand.”

Our Take

As I’ve previously shared here on Thailand Weekly, it’s become evident that the pandemic has changed the way that millions of people around the world have decided to live and work. The concept of “working from home” or “working remotely” is no longer a privilege that is earned over the course of a career, but instead more of a “given”, especially for those working in the tech or professional services industries. I could totally see this TAT x Airbnb collaboration being a big success, while also making it easier for those wanting to work remotely here.

The one thing I will say is that it feels like Thailand is sitting on an untapped gold mine as far as attracting digital nomads go. Southeast Asia is a top destination for flexible workers given the cost of living, lifestyle options, nature, and so much more. Other countries in the region have started to capitalize on this by launching specific remote work visas where both governments and remote workers win. In its current state, many of those staying here in the Kingdom long term are not paying any sort of taxes and simply extend tourist visas or do visa runs. In general, this isn’t an ideal solution for a few obvious reasons (constant visits to immigration, inability to open local bank accounts, government not collecting tax dollars, etc.), and I really do think it would be smart for Thailand to scope out and study the feasibility of a proper digital nomad visa, that’s not just another variation of the SMART visa, like many other countries around the world such as Indonesia, Greece, Croatia, Costa Rica, etc. have done over the past year. I actually had the chance to speak with a government official about this as part of a video we made last year, and they’re fully aware of the shortcomings of the current setup, but I guess these things take time.

Thailand’s Latest Play In Soft Power: Muay Thai

TAT is promoting a new Muay Thai campaign to share the famous Thai sport around the world as part of its strategy to leverage the Kingdom’s unique culture. The initiative will see the Tourism Authority partnering directly with the World Boxing Council by supporting its international events and creating Muay Thai specific guides. The campaign is titled “Amazing Muay Thai”, and some of the sport’s world champions will be participating in the program.

As part of Thailand’s ‘soft power’ strategy, authorities aim to promote the ‘5 Fs’ to the rest of the world. The 5 Fs are food, films, fashion, fighting, and festivals.

Our Take

I’m a big fan of this and think that it’s just another smart way for Thailand to take advantage of its amazing culture and strategically market it to a global audience. The soft power concept is something that Thailand has always focused on as a way to draw tourists and increase its influence on the world stage. In fact, the Kingdom’s most famous dish globally (Pad Thai), originated in the 1930’s as part of a soft power initiative. Just recently, we were able to witness first hand the influence that this can have when Thai rapper Milli ate Mango Sticky Rice on stage at Coachella. Sales in Thailand immediately doubled and it prompted what is likely hundreds of thousands of people around the world to try the dessert for the very first time. Another country in Asia that has perfected the art of cultural influence is South Korea. On top of seeing Korean influence in entertainment, fashion, and food just about every time I step out of my apartment here in Bangkok, Chris was recently telling me that one of his old buddies has a daughter that’s a big fan of K-Pop and wanted to start learning Korean as a teenager because of it. Fast forward a little bit and next thing you know, she’s spending the summer in Seoul continuing her Korean language studies.

All in all, Muay Thai is a big part of Thai culture, and to promote it globally is extremely wise. Especially in a time where the popularity of Mixed Martial Arts and Combat Sports is also growing.

Thailand Travel Tip

Many of us love Thailand for its food, nature, and people. I personally feel that Thailand’s greatest strength is that it has something for everyone. It can be a great place to vacation, retire, start a business, or even grow a family. But as a foreigner, it can sometimes be challenging to get the help you need given the language and cultural barriers. What visa should I apply for? How do I get a work permit? Am I eligible for Thai Permanent Residency? How can I get a visa for my Thai spouse? I’d recommend finding a reputable firm to help you navigate these waters. I recently got in touch with Baan Thai Immigration Solutions, an immigration law firm located in Bangkok. They have a fantastic reputation and a client 5-star rating on Google.

I’ve linked some of the services that they provide below, so if you’re interested in any of them, just click through for more information: 

On the other hand, if you’re just looking to visit Thailand for a few weeks or months, they have a free Guide to Visiting Thailand you can download here

Thailand May Implement Two-Tier Hotel Pricing

Thailand travellers may soon find that the Kingdom is a more expensive destination than the past two-years with the country planning on raising hotel rates to pre-pandemic levels to support a faster recovery. TAT plans on asking hotel operators to implement two-tier pricing models where foreigners will be charged 2019 rates while locals can continue to take advantage of discounted rates.

Traisuree Taisaranakul, a government spokeswoman said in a statement on Wednesday that “this is to maintain our standards of rates and services for foreign tourists, which affects the perception of country’s tourism brand. Rates that have been reduced during Covid-19 will be maintained for Thais to sustain the momentum of domestic tourism.” 

Hotels in hotspots such as Bangkok, Phuket, Krabi and Koh Samui continue to offer huge discounts to draw back visitors after the pandemic pushed room occupancy rates to less than 30%. 

Our Take

You know, I generally have zero issue with the two-tier pricing that sometimes exists here. There’s many expats that get beyond frustrated when they’re forced to pay double or triple the price that Thai people would pay to enter temples, national parks, etc., but it has never bugged me. I feel lucky to live here. This country has given me so much, so if I’m asked to pay an extra couple hundred baht extra compared to what my Thai buddies or girlfriend have to pay, then it’s all good. Having said that, I’m not a fan two-tier pricing on hotels. These tourists are people that don’t live here and aren’t able to enjoy everything Thailand has to offer on a year-round basis. Instead, these are people that may be shopping around and trying to figure out where they want to take their first big trip post-pandemic. Maybe they’re considering Vietnam? Perhaps they’re also looking at Indonesia? Point is, I think it’s a bad time to implement a policy like this. I feel that it makes more sense for Thailand to remove all of the sticky points that might hold people off from booking and first focus on getting as many people back as possible. Now on the flip side, it’s entirely possible that I’m incorrect here. Maybe it is smart to get hotel rates back up to normal as fast as possible? Especially given that most tourists that are looking to come won’t necessarily know or care that locals can get much cheaper prices. For many Thailand travellers, no matter how you slice the pie, hotel prices here will feel extremely reasonable compared to what they cost in their home country, and TAT may be on to something. Let’s see how it all pans out.

Only In Thailand 🇹🇭

I never thought that I would write this, but “beetle fighting season is just around the corner here in Thailand”. One man from the southern part of the country says that his rhinoceros beetles are poised to win the beetle battle championships. For context, every rainy season, male rhinoceros beetles fight head to head on a wooden pole and a female beetle is placed underneath, whose scent stimulates the males to fight until one backs down. Enthusiasts place their bets on who will win and the prizes can be as high as 100K baht. Only in Thailand!

Press Worthy 🔥