Tourists who do not meet quality criteria on arrival at any Thai airport will be required to serve at least one week on a Thai fishing boat.
The ‘earn your visa’ scheme is designed to both reduce the dependency of the Thai fishing industry on trafficked slave workers and to bring ‘dodgy’ foreigners into line with a taste of what’s waiting for them if they overstay. Tourists who arrive wearing a suit and tie or in ‘a nice twin-set and pearls’ will be exempted, as will anyone who can pay a modest ‘administrative’ fee – in cash.
Interestingly, but not entirely surprisingly, the proposed regulations do not specify which sex should wear the suits and which the twin-sets.
Admiral Thaithannik of the Thai Navy’s ‘Volunteer’ Fisherman Administration told us, “For whatever reason, Westerners have been taking an unhealthy interest in how we recruit to the fishing boats. We think a little ‘time-served’ will help these ‘low-quality’ tourists appreciate our culture and adjust their attitudes.”
A renowned human right’s activist who works in Thailand on his own special ‘Foreign Criminal Visa’, expressed concerns. ” Exposing fishing crews to foreign tourists, especially Brits and Aussies, will likely scar them for life. I don’t know any Burmese migrant who would want to work on a boat full of drunken Pattaya refugees.”
Nearly-Thai blogger Dicky Handcart thinks tourists will welcome the opportunity for sun, sand and scurvy. “It will certainly help create a class of hard-working, quality tourists, I can’t wait to drone on about it. Another stroke of genius from our dear leaders.”
Dicky wasn’t quite so enthusiastic when we asked him about plans to send ‘digital nomads’ to work in the noodle mines of Korat.