Saturday’s News-Jan 21

  • Visa incentives may last longer/
  • Baht will likely fluctuate 2017 due to uncertainty about US politics/
  • Becoming a professional teacher in Thailand/
  • World comes to grips with Trump’s dark vision/
  • Facebook Live irks operators/
  • Chinese New Year activities in Hua Hin/
  • Special deals for new advertisers!

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Editor note: Expat News would like to thank a reader yesterday who alerted us to a story that a media outlet had republished from 2015. We always welcome input from our readers and thank you for the heads up.

Visa incentives may last longer

The Tourism and Sports Ministry will propose to the cabinet next Tuesday to extend visa incentives for at least another three months in a bid to lure more foreign tourists and drive the industry during the low season.

The plan is expected to offset the sharp drop of Chinese tourists following the government’s zero-dollar crackdown in late September last year, said Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanawrangkul on the sidelines of the ASEAN Tourism Forum 2017 in Singapore.

The cabinet last year waived visa fees and halved the visa-on-arrival fee to 1,000 baht for tourists from 19 countries from Dec 1, 2016 to Feb 28, 2017.

This special visa scheme benefits visitors from Andorra, Bulgaria, Bhutan, China, Cyprus, Ethiopia, India, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, the Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Romania, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

The Tourism Department forecast a 13% drop in Chinese tourists this month, which is still lower than in November, which plunged 30% and was the biggest monthly contraction for Chinese arrivals to Thailand.

Kobkarn revealed the Chinese tourist market has gradually improved. Five Tourism Authority of Thailand offices in China reported Chinese tourists are returning to Thailand and the number of visa applications at Thai embassies in China is double the October-November period.

“Increasing visa applications means the impact of the zero-dollar tour crackdown is fading. This visa measure will help bring them back,” she said.

Kobkarn said the visa scheme has increased foreign tourist arrivals since December. Last year, there were 32.6 million arrivals in Thailand. During Jan 1-20, Thailand welcomed 1.8 million international tourists, up 6% year-on-year. – Bangkok Post

Baht will likely fluctuate 2017 due to uncertainty about US politics

Executives of commercial banks have forecast that the baht currency will likely fluctuate more than last year, mainly due to the uncertainty about the policies of the new US president.

Executive of Kasikornbank Kiit Charornkitchaichana said the US politics was the key factor affecting the Thai currency during this period. This year, the baht will have a tendency to fluctuate either by depreciating and appreciating quickly. The bank, therefore, forecast the baht’s value this year will stay around 35-37 baht to the USD, said the executive.

Meanwhile, TMB Analytics of TMB Bank has predicted that this year’s baht currency will be on the depreciation side, although it appreciated against the USD in the last two weeks. This baht appreciation was the result of USD currency speculation, said the bank.

TBM added that the Thai economy and other economies in the Asian region will rebound this year, leading to capital inflows. The baht will likely move between 35.50 – 36.80 baht to the USD. – NNT

Becoming a professional teacher in Thailand

By John Guzman

If there is one thing that impels young professionals to come and visit Thailand, it’s the idea that the grass looks greener on this side of the world. Thailand offers vast employment opportunities to foreigners, especially in the field of education.

I recall being reluctant, yet interested, as I started looking into the possibility of becoming a teacher about a year ago.

When I first came to Thailand, I worked as a manager at an international law firm in Bangkok. My decision to shift to a different career was swayed greatly by many different elements. I gradually developed interest when I was asked to teach English to a small youth group for two months. That’s when I realized I loved teaching and started working toward becoming a professional teacher in Thailand.

A little research showed me that it was not as easy as I thought. The first thing I did was return to my home country to retrieve my diploma and official transcripts from the university where I obtained my bachelor’s degree.

Additionally, many schools in Thailand require foreigners who are non-teachers by profession to possess relevant training and teaching certificates. I enrolled in a training center in Bangkok and took a 4-week ‘Teaching English as a Foreign Language’ (TEFL) program.

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An integral part of this course is to complete an 8-hour practical teaching requirement with different educational levels. This experience was quite helpful, as it gave me an idea of the typical classroom setting in Thailand.

After obtaining my certificate, I felt more than ready to begin job hunting. I thought it would be difficult because the school year had already started and I am not considered a “native English speaker”, even though I have spoken English my entire life. However, I was fortunate to find the right school about a week after I completed my course.

I was offered positions at three different schools in Thailand, but I chose one located in Rayong. It is not the ideal location if you like living in a city, but the school is near the beach and the people are very nice.

I was lucky that I had entered Thailand on a Non-B visa for my previous employment. Those who entered Thailand on another type of visa would have to leave the country, apply for a Non-B visa at an outside Thai consulate, and then re-enter Thailand.

As a ‘non-native’ English speaker, I was also required to pass the TOEIC exam, which I’m happy to say I did. I then prepared documents for a teaching license application and obtained my license shortly after.

To legally become a teacher in Thailand demands a significant and sometimes exigent process. Acquiring the proper visa and work permit can be time consuming and stressful. Although there are some who teach without them, it is far more sensible to be prepared and compliant. –

John Guzman is a teacher at a public high school in Rayong, Thailand.

A trip to Phitsanulok – Day 1, The Train

In Thailand, trains seem to have a Jekyll and Hyde reputation with expats. They’re praised for their small world quaintness and their utilitarian service and low cost. I’m not sure about the former, but trains are an integral transportation option for Thais. More…

World comes to grips with Trump’s dark vision

In the Philippines, nationalists rallied outside the US Embassy in Manila, setting fire to an American flag with a picture of President Donald Trump’s face. In China, state media highlighted the “violent” protests that accompanied his inauguration.

And in Germany, the vice-chancellor warned of a “drastic radicalization” in US politics and said Berlin stood ready to fill the void left by an isolationist Washington.

In countries around the world, alarmed reactions greeted Trump’s ascent to power and his inaugural pledge: “From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first.”

But some world leaders embraced the new reality, seeking to accommodate a galvanizing political force whose message has been echoed in mass movements across continents.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, who was the first world leader to meet with Trump after his election in November, said he hoped to hold a summit meeting with the new president as soon as possible. He called Japan’s alliance with the United States an “axis of Japan’s foreign and security policies”, even though Trump was vocal as a candidate in attacking Japanese trade practices and questioning US military support for the country.

But in Berlin, where Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has been rattled by anti-immigrant discontent before upcoming elections, Sigmar Gabriel, the vice-chancellor, said there were “highly nationalist tones” in Trump’s speech, which he said reflected a “drastic radicalization” of US politics. “You have to take the man seriously,” Gabriel said.

He said that if Trump made good on his pledges to rip up trade deals and disregard long-standing alliances, Germany stood ready to fill the void.

“Should the United States start a trade war with China and all of Asia, then we as Europeans and Germans are fair partners,” Gabriel said. “Europe and Germany need a strategy geared toward Asia and China — and we have new opportunities.”

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President Francois Hollande of France, battling nationalist currents in his own country, did not wait for Trump to give his address before suggesting that France’s course would divert from Washington’s new direction.

“We are in an open world economy, and it is not possible nor advisable to want to be isolated from the world economy,” he said. “We must not imagine France closed with respect to the rest of the world. This would mean the loss of jobs, the loss of skills and the loss of development for our economy.”

Others were struck by the dark tones of Trump’s speech. In Japan, Goro Hashimoto, a special editor at the right-leaning Yomiuri Shimbun, the world’s largest-circulation newspaper, compared Trump’s speech ro John F Kennedy’s 1961 inaugural address — and not favorably.

“When I heard Kennedy’s speech when I was a child, I was so excited,” Hashimoto said. “He talked about American values, as well as the benefits for the world. Trump didn’t talk in that way.”

In Beijing, Trump’s swearing-in took place at 1am Saturday local time, and well into the day, there was no official reaction to his inaugural address from a government whose statements are tightly scripted.

Hours before the inauguration, on Friday afternoon, a government spokeswoman had repeated boilerplate about the importance of bilateral relations between China and the United States, even though Trump and his cabinet picks have been sharply critical of Beijing.

Relations “have had their ups and downs, but they have continued to move forward”, Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for China’s Foreign Ministry, told reporters. “China-US relations should push forward from this new starting point to make greater progress.”

Hours after the inauguration, Hua’s comments were posted online in English by People’s Daily, the voice of the Communist Party.

While China’s reaction was muted, Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, was quick to offer her congratulations to Trump.

“Democracy is what ties Taiwan and the US together,” Tsai tweeted within a minute of Trump’s swearing-in. “Look forward to advancing our friendship and partnership.”

Last month, Tsai called Trump to congratulate him on his victory, the first leader of Taiwan to directly communicate with a US president or president-elect in decades. The United States does not have formal diplomatic ties to Taiwan, which China considers its own territory, and the phone call elicited strong criticism from Beijing.

Other politicians were also effusive. In Australia on Saturday, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of Australia, whose government has banished refugees who tried to reach Australia by boat, took to Twitter to wish Trump “every success” and predicted “a great future ahead of us”.

And in Brazil, an ultranationalist legislator, Jair Bolsonaro, expressed glee over the inauguration.

“Congratulations, new president of United States of America,” Bolsonaro, a conservative former army paratrooper who is preparing his own presidential bid in the 2018 election, said on Twitter.

But others in Brazil saw ominous signs.

“We can root for the possibility that Trump is merely trying to bluff the world with his offensive rhetoric on trade and global elites,” said Marcos Troyjo, a Brazilian economist and diplomat who writes on international affairs for the newspaper Folha de S Paulo. Still, Troyjo said that Trump’s first moves as president signaled that he was already creating a “stockpile of uncertainty and turbulence”.

“Time to buckle your seatbelts and cross your fingers,” Troyjo said. – New York Times

Facebook Live irks operators

Thai media experts have expressed concerns about the rising popularity of Facebook Live, which could become an online TV station to challenge digital TV operators in the future.

During the New Year holidays, banned TV news anchor Sorayuth Suthassanachinda made his comeback by reporting the floods in the South live on his Facebook fanpage. His appearance was the talk of the town, as the live feature on Facebook helped him report news again even though he has been prohibited since last February from appearing on TV for a year.

The issue has also put a pressure on the digital TV industry, incentivizing digital TV operators to adapt to online channels.

Apart from Sorayuth, popular TV host Wutthithorn “Woody” Milintajinda and former Rak Thailand Party leader Chuvit Kamolvisit frequently make live reports on Facebook.

Time Chuastapanasiri said Facebook Live is a new threat for digital TV operators. It does not only affect the digital TV industry but also the cable and satellite platforms.

“The emergence of Facebook Live will soon change the way TV broadcasters do business. Programs no longer air only on TV screens. They must think about the online broadcast,” he said.

Facebook Live is considered the most convenient way to broadcast content through smartphones, negating the need for broadcasting facilities. Live appearances on Facebook can draw viewership as high as those for prime-time programs at some digital TV channels.

The feature also allows broadcasters to have real-time engagements and two-way communications with audiences. Comments from audiences can be seen by broadcasters as they come in.

“Facebook might become a TV station in the future, using digital TV operators as its tools or content providers,” Time said.

A simulcast broadcast on Facebook Live could be useful for digital TV operators, as they can attract more viewers through multiple platforms. Regulations related to broadcasting via Facebook Live have not yet been implemented, including by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC).

The absence of rules and regulations might allow digital TV operators to broadcast exclusively on Facebook Live and leave behind traditional TV, which would require audiences to have internet access.

“If Facebook Live becomes a real TV station, it will absolutely affect the digital TV industry and shrink it with lower advertising revenue. Staff may face unemployment and there may be a chain reaction in the overall economy,” Time said.

Meanwhile, he said audiences, when consuming news, should be aware of differentiating propaganda from actual information as it is very easy for anyone to produce news anywhere at anytime.

Kitthanes Tungsirithananan, editor of Dailynews online agency, said media operators should be ready to adapt to Facebook Live and brace for its impact by using it wisely alongside traditional media. Many broadcasters now offer content via Facebook Live along with their linear channels, but the vast majority of viewers still watch TV. – Bangkok Post

Chinese New Year Activities

Anantara Hua Hin

Celebrate The Year of The Rooster at Anantara Hua Hin Resort. Create your own dining journey from a buffet of world flavours. Chinese specialties include suckling pig and roasted duck pancakes. Your favourite meats and seafood are flame grilled to perfection. Desserts offer oriental decadence. Festive drama unfolds with a lion dance show, Chinese dancers and our resident trio band.

Date: 28 January 2017; Venue: Sai Thong; Time: 6.00 pm – 10.00 pm; Price: THB 1,880++ per adult, including a welcome cocktail & THB 940++ per child aged 4 – 11 years. (All prices are subject to 10% service charge and 7% government tax.)

Enjoy 15% discount of “Chinese New Year Gala Dinner” for bookings in advance until 26 January 2017!

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