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Open letter from long-stay tourist in Phuket spurs action from Prime Minister

Open letter from long-stay tourist in Phuket spurs action from Prime Minister

PHUKET: The Prime Minister has ordered his assistants to investigate the circumstances of a German long-stay tourist in Phuket whose open letter was published by The Phuket News, appealing for him to be allowed to stay in the country after the ‘visa amnesty’ ends on Sept 26, instead of being forced to go back to Germany where COVID-19 infections have recently skyrocketed.

By The Phuket News

Wednesday 2 September 2020, 09:20AM

An open letter by German long-stay tourist in Phuket Bernhard Stoever has spurred action by the Prime Minister. Photo: Tanyaluk Sakoot

An open letter by German long-stay tourist in Phuket Bernhard Stoever has spurred action by the Prime Minister. Photo: Tanyaluk Sakoot

An official working at the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit, a research and policy advisory division that operates under the Prime Minister’s Office and reports directly to the Prime Minister, confirmed on Tuesday (Sept 1) that PM Prayut Chan-o-cha had read the open letter, penned by German man Bernhard Stoever. 

In his open letter, published online by The Phuket News on Aug 22, Mr Stoever urged the Thai government to consider the circumstances he and many other long-stay tourists already staying in Thailand were facing. 

“I am one of the many long-term tourists who have been lucky enough to be able to extend their stay in Thailand since the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus. I firmly believe that this saved many people’s lives!

“Thanks to the prudent Thai policies, the first wave of global contagion was combated in an exemplary manner. For that, too, I and all “stranded” would like to thank you very much. And, of course, we would like to especially thank the Thai people who have received us with such indescribable hospitality. Thank you so much Thailand!” he wrote.

“However, the expulsion on September 26th hits us particularly hard. I would like to use my example to show you what this change does in individual cases. The same applies to many ‘stranded’ people,” he added.

“I am a writer, 68 years old, live in Hamburg and am currently in Phuket. Everything is fine with me in terms of health. Nevertheless, I am extremely endangered in Germany. Every year in autumn and winter, Germany and Europe are attacked by a dangerous flu virus that makes millions of people seriously ill and kills tens of thousands, mainly among the elderly. And the course of the disease becomes more severe from year to year. Unfortunately, I am very susceptible and get the flu every year. It was particularly bad three years ago and I almost died from it,” he explained.

“So I decided to spend the winter in Thailand, which I learned to love a long time ago. Here I don’t get any flu and live healthy. But the COVID-19 virus changed a lot.

“The second virus wave is now looming in Europe and Germany and will be probably even worse than the first. Together with the flu virus and the high age of most returnees, this means a huge risk for many people. And I too admit with discomfort that if I have to return to Germany in September, I may never see Thailand again. For me, as for many others, it is really a matter of life or death,” he added.

Mr Stoever asked the Thai authorities whether it was possible to issue a provisional residence permit for the ‘stranded’, so that they can determine the return flight themselves. “Or is it possible to make repatriations dependent on the danger that exists in the home country. Nobody wants to die in a corona hotspot,” he said.

Speaking to The Phuket News on Tuesday, Mr Stoever said that allowing long-stay tourists such as himself to be able to stay in Thailand was a win-win for both parties.

“With long-stay tourists like myself, all my money goes directly to the local community. I stay at a place with no kitchen, so I eat out all the time, and even my laundry is done outside. Everything I do contributes to all the small business around where I am staying. This is the same with any long-stay tourist,” he said.

He added that he knew he was not alone with his predicament. A German lady and an American both did not want to return home due to the state of COVID-19 infections in their home countries.

The officer at the PDMU that The Phuket News spoke with on Tuesday said that Mr Stoever’s plea had been heard at the highest level. PM Prayut had asked the PDMU to interview Mr Stoever and investigate how many other long-stay foreign tourists already in Thailand were facing the same predicament.

“We want to know more about the case of the German man in Phuket, and similar cases in other provinces,” the officer said.

“We are seeking a way to help the German man, and similar cases, to stay in Thailand and extend their visas. We want them to stay,” he added.

Mr Stoever welcomed the news. “I want to stay. I want to live,” he said on Tuesday.

To gain clear feedback directly from other long-stay tourists wanting to stay in Thailand, the officer at the PDMU invited such tourists to email a clear description of their situation. By arrangement, such tourists can send their emails to The Phuket News will forward all relevant emails directly to the PDMU. Emails must include contact details and the Subject line must say, “Please let me stay”.

People were urged to send their emails as soon as practically possible.

“We have no deadline for receiving these emails, but the PDMU will report its findings directly to the Prime Minister, and this will need to be done soon,” the officer said.

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fkjolly | 05 September 2020 - 14:21:21

Thanks for this I just emailed you with subject as requested.. in summary as tourists in Thailand are soo very thankful, we follow rules, we spend on average 35,000 THB per month and support local business, and we are happy to pay reasonable Visa prices until it is 100% safe to fly and going back to our home Countries does not require 14 day quarantine.

Kurt | 05 September 2020 - 09:37:02

@ zartosht. Read: 'Phuket hotels scramble to register, (PN, 26 Aug). Than read reaction of DeKaasKopp ( 27 Aug). He is able to direct you to ALSQ accommodations which just charge 32.000 thb p.p only for 14 days.

LALALA | 04 September 2020 - 09:26:06

Pascale... I not said I want to impress you. There is no need to do so as you are not paying my wages hence it would be not beneficial for me in any Harald, yes you are completely correct, 100percent agree with your statement

Kurt | 04 September 2020 - 00:48:32

@ zartosht. You are right, the day you are 'released' from ALSQ holding ( without alcohol?) you and family are almost 1 million thb further before you even had 1 real day holiday. Well, the ALSQ hotels have hoisted the Cheating & Scamming flags!  Abusing the situation. Complete faceless off the road. No decency.

harald | 03 September 2020 - 22:39:45

what a jerk he is and unfortunatly from germany too where i come from. only such jerks don´t know the covid19 virus is also a flu virus only mutated from another flu virus from the family corona. i feel shame and wish him a good fly back to germany and a very, very long stay there. 

Pascale | 03 September 2020 - 21:56:30

No Lalala,I'm not easy to impress.Especially not from some 5*Hotel poser. But I agree it's not mandatory to like Thailand.But it's crazy if someone comes here again and again if he doesn't like Thailand.That's ridiculous. BTW,the door to the UAE is already open .Etihad is flying daily !

johannesweber | 03 September 2020 - 19:14:25

yes i agree immigration needs stop making a cottage industry out of it

cpfleger | 03 September 2020 - 16:18:16

Numbers are skyrocketing in Germany? 

zartosht | 03 September 2020 - 15:32:01

I come as a tourist in Thailand for 17 years, and when I heard that phuket is open again then I am happy to think about 14 days quarantine, but after that I received an email from the hotel that you have to pay 199000 B per person, me and my  wife and baby cost us for 14 day carriage close to 600,000 B. then insurance for at least 100,000 dollars cost a lot + flight and more, then we decided to ca

LALALA | 03 September 2020 - 10:55:34

Pascale...ohhh, wow he has a are really easy to impress, arnt you ? 
And yes. .i stay in 5star hotels only and I try to avoid contact with Thai people if possible, simply because i not trust them and I not want to waste my valuable lifetime with them. As previously statet since what time is it mandatory to lile LOS ? Please explain.

Kurt | 03 September 2020 - 10:50:37

@Fizzle, 'this man and others' just want a way out of their problems with help of Thai Government. I guess fees are the last thing what is their concern. Hopefully they fit in in that 9 month visa program we red about. Besides: I find it strange that a usa embassy not assist stranded usa 'boat citizens'.

Fizzle | 03 September 2020 - 09:21:34

So if this man and others can continue to stay in Thailand, does that mean us truthfully expats who pay for their retirement Visa every year will get a refund from the government?

Pascale | 03 September 2020 - 09:16:21

@Lalala    At least he has a profile. Not same some clown who tells everyone on here that he only stays in 5* Star Hotels or resides in a pool villa and tries to avoid contact with Thai people at all cost.

Kurt | 03 September 2020 - 07:52:08

Well, what about a Immigration start? Make a Retirement extension valid for a period of 2 years. And initiate to change the 90 day report into a 180 days report. Try it out a few years. And mr Stroever can get a A- or O- or whatever Visa, and apply for a Retirement extension if he intend to stay more than 186 days a year in beautiful Thailand.

Sandbar | 03 September 2020 - 07:50:09

People tend to panic what they can't control. These times are a streesfull for all, including governments. Lets work together to achieve out comes with common sense. I dont believe the Thai government want to make it any more difficult to foriegners if they don't have too. It only makes thier job more difficult! The eyes of the world is on all governments to fair and support stranded touri...

Svcoquette | 03 September 2020 - 05:02:00

Our boat is our ONLY home, we would not leave it unattended anywhere. Come 26th September we will not be forced to be separated from our home. Plus we have no place to go.

Supaporn | 03 September 2020 - 03:11:51 typical thai...

Foot | 02 September 2020 - 20:03:07

It's nice that Mr. Stoever is gaining attention,.  But, the whole virus issue, and Thai visa issues are much greater.
Thailand needs to make the "Retirement" extension less of a hassle.
It was said, in the past few days, to await a potential announcement around 15 September.

BigA | 02 September 2020 - 17:03:53

If you leave your boat here in a Marina its as safe as Malaysia ! 

Christy Sweet | 02 September 2020 - 16:54:15

Please make the retirement permit last 5 years at least. No one can make any sort of plans having to renew a visa every year, Malaysia and Cambodia offer 10 year permits to reside. Seems Thailand needs every consumer on deck right now. 

BigA | 02 September 2020 - 16:53:53

Very pathetic,I want to live! So you dont want to see your Grandchildren for Christmas ?  

timhouston | 02 September 2020 - 13:32:55

Don't worry Bernhard you can go back to Germany, the virus is not dangerous any more, there are no deaths and hospitals are empty. You'll be safe.

LALALA | 02 September 2020 - 12:26:40

Why he not gets a retirement visa ? I remember a previous post of this guy where he said... you know, google my profile and I can afford to play golf, if so he could easily afford to pay an agent 45k to get a retirement visa. By the way, I googled his profile, a third class actor and writer in Germany, nothing else... his e-books can buy for 99cent , .. LOL, worldclass for sure.

Annoyed | 02 September 2020 - 12:15:25

That would be a massive kick in the teeth to long term expats who've had to jump through many hoops and pay high fees to extend visas and work permits properly if tourists would then be allowed to stay without the need for that. Given the expats pay taxes etc here and tourists don't, priority should he given to those, not the tourists who have had ample opportunity to sort their sh1t out

Kurt | 02 September 2020 - 11:57:31

Well,  the government is working on a 9 month visa thing? Right? That would be a nice outcome for many foreigners who are now trapped in Thailand due too Covid-19 regulations/rules and no regular international flights.


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