The Miracle Box

The much hyped “Phuket Sandbox Model”, planned to start on July 1st, seems to be the first glimmer of hope for the island’s or arguably the country’s tourism industry, which is struggling to survive.

The term “sandbox” might be confusing because it can be interpreted in many ways and the public might not be familiar with business jargon let alone when we are dealing with a new CoViD-related glossary on an almost daily basis.


What is “Phuket Sandbox” Does it have to do with the destination being an island After all, by definition, a sandbox is a box that contains sand for children to play in. But in this case it’s a metaphor referring to “a controlled environment supervised by a regulatory authority within which existing regulations are relaxed or removed to allow businesses to more freely experiment with new products and services”. In other words, Phuket, with the geographical advantage of being an island and presumably easier to control and contain the virus, will be a testing ground for the opening up of the Thai tourism industry. If successful, the so-called sandbox model will be applied at other tourist destinations from October onwards.

After fine-tuning the balance between public health and the economy, conditional approval by the National Communicable Diseases will see the island able to receive tourists who are fully vaccinated 14 days before traveling to Thailand. The vaccine they received must be recognized and approved by the World Health Organization or WHO and they can only arrive from certain countries where the CoViD-19 situation is under control or the number of infections is moderate or low. Tourists will also be required to have a CoViD-free certificate issued within the 72 hours of arriving in the country. There will be a CoViD-check upon arrival followed by another two tests on day 7 and day 14.

Travelers are encouraged to stay at SHA+ hotels. SHA is the stamp of approval by the Tourism Authority of Thailand for the premise’s safety and health standards and “plus” means all the staff at the hotel have already been vaccinated. Visiting tourists must stay on the island, quarantine-free, for two weeks before being allowed to roam anywhere in the country, with the condition of having negative CoViD tests of course.

The timeline for the Phuket Sandbox to be fully materialized is as followed.

Friday June 18, 2021 The CCSA or the Center for CoViD-19 Situation Administration will assess and approve the standard operation procedures (SOPs) before submitting to the cabinet for a final approval on June 22, 2021. The final step will be publication in the Royal Gazette which is expected to be announced during the last week of June 2021, just in time for the July 1st, 2021 kick off.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand has been instrumental in making sure the model works by conducting workshops with operators on the island during the whole month of June to ensure smooth and safe operation. It has set a target of attracting 129,000 tourists between July and September, generating revenue of around THB 11.4 billion, yet the challenges remain.

Phuket is an island, yes, nut “No Man is an Island”. Success of the sandbox model relies heavily on tourists who might be reluctant to accept being stranded on the island for 14 days or fear of having to be quarantined in their home country upon their return. Not to mention the fact that not every single country can be certain of the characteristics of the disease, especially unknown variants, or even the speed of infections which blurs the line separating the highly-infected countries and low or moderately-infected countries that Thailand aims to recruit the tourists from. Last but not least, single command and poor communication from the host agencies involved could turn the miracle sandbox into a Pandora’s Box but let’s hope for the best as the success of Phuket Sandbox will shed light on other destinations that equally need the tourism income lifeline.

Photo : Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)


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Reporter : Tarin Angskul

Rewriter : Tarin Angskul

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Thailand will open to tourism in mid-October

After more than the six weeks of combating the upticks in virus infections throughout the country, the Prayut government announced last Wednesday that Thailand will be open for tourists to visit within 120 days. This would mean that by the morning of October 15, visitors from local and abroad can travel in Thailand without any quarantine providing that they have been fully vaccinated.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-Ocha revealed the deadline as part of his efforts to shore up support from the business community. They have been very critical of him for imposing the longstanding partial lockdown that has impacted the country’s economic performance. He said that his top priority is to save lives as well as maintain the livelihoods of the Thai people. To prepare for the country’s reopening, he urged every department in government and the governors of provinces to make all preparations so that people can go back to earning a living once again.

The announcement came after the government ascertained that the procurement of vaccines for the Thai people could be guaranteed. Since April, the issue of vaccine availability and access has become a hot political topic in the media and in the parliamentary debates. Senior officials at Government House and the Ministry of Public Health have given confusing reports about the status of vaccine security in the country. Beginning July 7, the government’s confidence in achieving mass inoculation should visibly increase. More and more Thais have now registered for vaccination.


Prayut said that Thailand has now negotiated with six suppliers of vaccines, namely Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Sinovac and Sinopharm. By the end of year, he said Thailand would have amassed 105.5 million doses, which is sufficient to inoculate all the Thai population. At this juncture, the government plans to administer an average of 10 million jabs a month from July so that by early October almost 50 million people, or 70 per cent of Thai population will have had their first shot.


In the post pandemic world, Thailand’s economic strength will still be based on the tourism industry which has long provided national revenue and income for the hotel and service industries. Phuket, the country’s premier tourist resort, will be the first to open up on July 1. Earlier the island has already experimented with its tourism plan allowing long-stay tourists to come exclusively to the island resort.

In order to maintain the country’s vaccine security, it is important for Thailand to produce its own vaccines. Siam Bioscience is one of the 25 companies given licenses to produce AstraZeneca for local use and export. Since December of last year, the Thai company has produced millions of doses but they were all for export. However, beginning this month, locally produced vaccines under the brand AstraZeneca will be used in Thailand. It is expected by the end of this year, there will be at least 61 million doses available for the Thai people.

As such, Thailand is investing in research and development to produce its own vaccines through local labs and Thai scientists. The most notable has been Chulalongkorn University’s mRNA Covid-19 vaccine, known as ChulaCov19, which began Phase 1 of human trials with 72 volunteers last week. The number of volunteers will soon go up to 5,000 in Phase 2 and even more in the final Phase 3. If all goes as planned, ChulaCov19 could be manufactured in Thailand by the end of this year.

By mid-October, Thailand’s new plan to reinvigorate the economy will be put to the test in terms of whether the country can build back better. Lest we forget, Thailand is hosting next year’s Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders Meeting which will be the first face-to face meeting. The whole world will have its eyes focused on Thailand.

Photo : Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)


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Delta Coronavirus Variant Is Expected to Dominate in Bangkok

Thailand’s Department of Medical Sciences (DMS) says that one-third of COVID-19 patients in Bangkok will be tested to determine whether they have been infected by the Delta variant, as the strain is expected to become dominant in the capital in the next few months.

The DMS revealed on Monday that Bangkok is the largest cluster of Delta variant infections, which was first detected in India, with 331 new cases being recorded last week, increasing the number of patients infected by this particular variant to 822.

DMS Director-General Dr. Supakit Sirilak said 25.66% of detected cases in Bangkok last week were of the Delta variant, a rise from the 23.67% in the previous week. The spread has expanded beyond the construction site clusters in April.

He said all figures indicate that Bangkok will be dominated by the Delta variant in the next few months, adding that people should take measures to prevent infection, including rushing to get vaccinated, as many studies have found that all vaccines can reduce the chances of infection when compared with those who are not vaccinated.


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Paraiba Tourmaline – A unique spectrum for a rare gem

Paraiba Tourmaline is famous for its broad blue-green spectrum and surprisingly, it’s more expensive than many gems on the market. It can fetch up to $100,000 per carat. The equally famous “neon blue” and other colors are apparent even in the raw stones.

This color range is one of the reasons for Paraiba Tourmaline’s popularity. In jewelry design, color is a critical major asset. The unique spectrum of Paraiba Tourmaline makes it stand out. It goes brilliantly with other gems, and work well as a standalone centrepiece.

The raw stones occur in an interesting variety of colors and textures from very deep blue to a very pale sea green. This makes them excellent for creative design. A good example of the extreme versatility of these stones is the sheer scope and range of different designs and cuts add partial and multiple carat sizes.

Paraiba Tourmaline – The jeweler’s friend in so many ways

Looking good isn’t Paraiba Tourmaline’s only claim to fame, though. One of the most important properties of any gemstone is how the gems can be cut. Paraiba Tourmaline ticks all the boxes. It can be cut In any range of designs, and most importantly, cuts can be scaled to both small and large sizes.

One of the extraordinary things about Paraiba Tourmaline is that it can be sourced in surprisingly pure stones and in large sizes. When these stones are cut, the offcuts also produce valuable (and workable) secondary pieces. That’s important when you’re paying big money for a single raw gemstone. Paraiba Tourmaline delivers value on all scales of cut.

Paraiba Tourmaline also works very well with other gemstones and particularly well with the ever-popular other tourmalines. Multifaceted cuts and good color selection can achieve truly stunning jewelry designs, from basic rings complex sets.

Paraiba Tourmaline on the market

Paraiba Tourmaline

In market terms, Paraiba Tourmaline has another major recommendation – It’s a high-value/high demand asset for modern design. Modern jewelry is constantly experimenting with new designs. A good, reliable gemstone with many different cuts and design options is therefore a very useful, efficient design choice for professional jewelers.

If you’re thinking that this degree of flexibility and adaptability makes Paraiba Tourmaline an excellent commercial option, you’re quite right. With the very high demand for custom jewelry in the upscale markets, Paraiba Tourmaline is very much in demand.

Sourcing Paraiba Tourmaline

Whether you’re a business or a private buyer, sourcing Paraiba Tourmaline requires some thought. The best options are:

1. Look for a supplier with a very broad range of Paraiba Tourmaline stones.
2. The variety of cuts and stone sizes is important; a good supplier will have an excellent range.
3. Prices do matter. A supplier which can offer significant discounts is a useful find.

SHOPRMCGEMS can help with a fabulous range of Paraiba Tourmaline in a broad bandwidth of carat sizes. Talk to our expert that your needs, and we’ll be happy to assist with practical help and advice in sourcing top-quality Paraiba Tourmaline for you.


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Pattaya to pilot Ko Lan tourism reopening

Pattaya City now aims to reopen Ko Lan off the coast of Chonburi province for international tourism in the near future, before extending the opening to other parts of the city, in line with the government’s 120-day country reopening goal.

The Mayor of Pattaya Sontaya Khunpluem said today the city is in favor of the government’s 120-day country reopening goal.

As a key tourism and economic city, the mayor said Pattaya has been making preparations and an economic and tourism recovery plan, starting with a tourism reopening pilot in Ko Lan off Pattaya’s coast.

To make this ambition possible, the city has launched a vaccination drive for businesses owners and workers on the island, with about 70% of them now vaccinated.

Pattaya City aims to make Ko Lan a ‘green zone’ for tourism, with the beauty of attractions and hospitable accommodation attracting visitors.

Mr Sontaya said the city will need to achieve a balance between the economic restart and public health, while a revival of tourism activities will start first with domestic tourists before the country’s reopening for international visitors in the future.


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Results of the First Phase of Human Trials of Thai COVID-19 Vaccine Are Promising

Thailand’s Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO) has reported that the results of the first phase of human trials of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate, being developed by the GPO and Mahidol University’s faculty of tropical medicine, are promising and the official results will be released next month.

GPO Director Dr. Vitoon Danwiboon said the first phase trial of HXP-GPOVac, which uses inactivated virus technology, has produced positive results in terms of safety and triggering an immune response. Samples have been sent for analyses in labs, run by the Department of Medical Sciences and National Science and Technology Development Agency, as well as to labs overseas.

He said two out of five formulae will be selected for the next phase, with a group of 250 volunteers, and the one showing most promise will be used in the trial’s third phase.

According to Dr. Vitoon, HXP-GPOVac was developed using a different technology, aimed at triggering immunity against virus mutations. It is also effective against the Alpha variant and tests are underway to determine its effectiveness against the Beta and Delta variants.


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Thailand announces new restrictions in Bangkok to contain COVID-19 spread

Thailand on Sunday announced new restrictions centred around Bangkok in a bid to tackle the coronavirus outbreak.

The new measures, which will be implemented for 30 days from Monday (June 28), include a ban on restaurant dine-ins in Bangkok, the capital, five surrounding provinces which are Samut Prakarn, Pathum Thani, Nonthaburi, Nakhon Pathom, Samut Sakhon and Southern border provinces which are Yala, Narathiwat, Pattani, and Song Khla according to a document published in the country’s royal gazette.

Shopping malls in Bangkok and the five provinces must be closed by 9pm, and parties or celebrations, or activities involving a gathering of more than 20 people will be banned for the same duration, the document said.

It also said construction sites in six areas will be shut down and workers’ camps will be sealed off to contain clusters. The order followed the emergence of more clusters in construction camps in the capital, which has 575 such sites housing about 81,000 workers.

Since May, 37 clusters have been found in Bangkok camps.

Authorities will set up checkpoints in Bangkok and the five provinces to limit travel and relocation of construction workers, the document said, adding that there will also be checkpoints in the country’s four southern provinces near Malaysia.


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Royal Gazette Announces Thailand’s New Regulations for Online Ride-hailing Services

Thailand’s Transport Ministry has reported that a ministerial regulation, covering online ride-hailing services, has been announced in the Royal Gazette, making the rules enforceable.

Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob said, according to the regulations, personal motor vehicles can be registered for online ride-hailing services. The Department of Land Transport (DLT) will now seek opinions from the various parties involved and, in 30 days, will announce criteria to support service providers and applications that will be used for the service.

He said the regulation will help people make the most of their resources, in line with the principle of the sharing economy. People will be allowed to use their personal vehicles to provide ride-hailing services, as an alternative to taxis. Each person is allowed to register only one personal vehicle, and the driver must be equipped with electronic communication systems endorsed by the DLT.

For small and medium sized cars, the starting fare is no more than 50 baht for the first two kilometres, and no more than 12 baht for each subsequent kilometre traveled. For larger vehicles, the starting fare is no more than 200 baht for the first two kilometres and no more 30 baht for each subsequent kilometre traveled.


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Thai Government Will Launch New Measures to Help Small Businesses

Thailand’s National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC) reports that the government will introduce new measures to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) cope with the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

NESDC secretary-general Danucha Pichayanan said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has scheduled a joint meeting, on 23 June, with members of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, the Federation of Thai Industries, the Thai Bankers’ Association and the Federation of Thai SMEs Association, to develop more effective measures to help SMEs affected by the outbreak.

He said the prime minister is concerned about the plight of SMEs crippled by the pandemic, as many SMEs have yet to access the government’s existing aid measures, such as the Bank of Thailand’s amended soft loan scheme, worth 250 billion baht. Other SMEs want the government to support other measures, in addition to financial assistance.

Mr Danucha said the government is likely to ask for more cooperation from large businesses to assist SMEs, such as buying more of their products and including SMEs in their supply chain. Large companies may be asked to become guarantors for SMEs when they apply for loans.


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Celebration of the 7th International Day of Yoga 2021

The 7th International Day of Yoga was celebrated with the theme of “YogaForWellness” by the Embassy of India, Bangkok on 20 June 2021 with participation of around 35 people following Covid-19 safety protocols in wake of the pandemic situation. Participants in small groups from various Indian associations, business chamber, universities joined through hybrid mode from multiple locations in Bangkok as well as in Ubon Ratchathani, Rayong, Songkla, Chiang Mai, Pattaya & Phuket and performed the yoga protocol simultaneously. The programme was also streamed live at the Embassy’s facebook and Youtube accounts.

Ambassador of India to Thailand, H.E. Ms. Suchitra Durai delivered the welcome remarks. She highlighted about how India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposed in the UN General Assembly in 2014 to observe 21 June as the International Day of Yoga and the proposal was adopted by consensus by UN General Assembly. She also pointed out about importance of Yoga for physical and mental health, particularly during the pandemic. She also spoke about the launch of the certification of foreign yoga professionals by Indian Council for Cultural Relations through the Indian embassies and Indian Cultural Centres abroad.

The Yoga protocol was coordinated by yoga instructors Mr. Sanjeev Chaturvedi and Ms. Jiraporn Oh of Divine Yoga.

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