Le Meridien Phuket Beach Resort awarded ‘SHA’ certification


PHUKET: Le Meridien Phuket Beach Resort has been awarded the Amazing Thailand ‘Safety and Health Administration – SHA’ Certificate. The SHA certificate ensures travelers that the hotel is ready for domestic and international guests return post-COVID-19.

The certification confers that Le Meridien Phuket Beach Resort has met the health and safety high standards the SHA programme requires, which ranges from hygiene of the workplace and its facilities, public areas, guestrooms, meeting rooms, restaurants, staff hygiene to guest safety protocols.

The Amazing Thailand Safety and Health Administration (SHA) project is a result of cooperation between the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), the Ministry of Public Health, the Department of Disease Control, the Department of Health and the Department of Health Service Support, as well as government and private sector organisations involved in the tourism industry.

“Together they aim to make tourism a part of Thailand’s disease prevention measures and ensure that both Thai and foreign tourists have a positive experience, that they are happy and confident in the sanitation and safety standards of Thailand’s tourism products and services. This can be achieved by combining public health safety measures and the establishments’ high-quality service standards to reduce the risk and prevent the spread of COVID-19, as well as improving Thailand’s tourism products and service standards.” explained the TAT in announcing the SHA certification scheme.

In addition to the SHA certification, Le Meridien Phuket Beach Resort has also put in place a Property Cleanliness Council comprised of two senior leaders along with the department heads as members of the council, sais a statement from the resort announcing its SHA certification.

“They are responsible for the hotel’s cleanliness program following Marriott’s Commitment to Cleanliness standards and leveraging on tools available. The council is also able to answer guests’ questions on cleanliness and hygiene during their stay. Marriott’s Commitment to Cleanliness Global Council and the Property Cleanliness Council are actively monitoring the authorities’ guidance and come up with effective solutions to ensure a diligent focus on our guests’ and associates’ safety,” the statement explained.

The council covers cleanliness practices and hospitality norms and behaviors from the overall property, public spaces, guest room, back of the house, engineering, restaurant & bar, food & beverage, housekeeping to contactless service through the Marriott Bonvoy app.

Le Meridien Phuket Beach Resort General Manager Julian Lowry said, “Le Meridien Phuket Beach Resort is ready to welcome you back to our resort. Good news is, we have opened our doors since 1st July for you to visit and rediscover the destination with all the safety standards in place. Another piece of good news is, it is not only us who have been working hard in making your stay safe and with ease, it is all establishments all over the country with the leadership of TAT. We are very grateful for the efforts of everyone as we remain positive, committed and vigilant in delivering a safe and healthy service.”

Courtesy: Published at The Phuket News on July 2, 2020 by PR

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Can digital taxes help fund the COVID-19 recovery in emerging markets?


With digital payment services and streaming platforms experiencing rapid growth during the coronavirus pandemic, governments in emerging markets are looking at introducing digital taxes as a way of expanding state revenue.

The pandemic and associated lockdowns have caused commerce to shift online, as consumer purchases are increasingly made through digital channels. Meanwhile, streaming networks have seen a significant uptake in traffic over the first few months of the year, as have online conferencing services.

In light of these trends – and the significant economic pressures associated with the virus – governments have been looking to enact or update digital tax policies to better reflect shifts in consumption patterns.

Worldwide Momentum

In July Indonesia imposed a 10% value-added tax (VAT) on digital products sold by foreign companies. This tax covers streaming services – such as those offered by Spotify and Netflix – as well as applications and digital games.

The Indonesian government expects state revenue to drop by 10% this year, leading to a fiscal deficit of 5.1% – the largest in a decade. However, given that the country’s booming digital economy is expected to generate revenues of $130bn by 2025, the tax could significantly boost state coffers as officials look to support post-pandemic growth.

This development followed similar moves in India, where the government introduced a 2% tax on digital services provided by foreign companies. While covering streaming services, the law also taxes e-commerce revenues on sites such as Amazon.

Going forward, the government in the Philippines is reviewing a proposal that would tax online shopping, social media advertisements and video and music streaming, while similar proposals have been advanced in Kenya.

Digital taxation is also gaining traction in developed markets. France, which had been debating a tax on digital services for several years, announced in May that it would implement a levy by the end of the year.

Pre-coronavirus measures

Although the economic fallout of the pandemic has accelerated the introduction of taxes on digital services, some countries had already taken steps in this direction prior to the outbreak of COVID-19.

For instance, Malaysia introduced a 6% digital tax on January 1, while Singapore also expanded its good-and-services tax (GST) to include digital services at the beginning of the year.

Elsewhere, Norway was one of the first to include digital services in VAT rules back in 2011, at a rate of 25%.

This was followed by similar moves in New Zealand, which extended its 15% GST in 2016, and Russia, which introduced a digital tax of 18% in 2017 that has since been revised upwards to 20%.

Opposition to tax reform

Such attempts to tax digital services have faced some opposition  – both before and during the pandemic. This has largely come from the US, where most of the world’s largest digital firms are based.

In June the US Trade Representative, the government agency responsible for developing trade policy, announced that it was launching probes into a number of countries and trade blocs for implementing or planning to introduce new taxes on digital companies.

The country is investigating Austria, Brazil, the Czech Republic, the EU, India, Indonesia, Italy, Spain, Turkey and the UK amid concerns that taxes have been specifically crafted to target US companies such as Apple, Facebook, Google and others.

Furthermore, in mid-June international media reported that the US had suspended talks with France, Italy, Spain and the UK over proposed changes to global taxation law, warning that they could face increased tariffs if they pressed ahead with digital taxation plans.

The dispute threatens to derail international efforts to implement a new global tax framework for tech companies.

Prior to COVID-19 the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) had been working with nearly 140 countries to rewrite global tax rules in response to the rising prominence of tech firms over the past few decades.

New Digital Platforms Emerging

Parallel to this, the ongoing boom in digital services has led to an increase in local options in emerging markets.

In June GoPlay, the video streaming service of Indonesia’s multi-purpose app GOJEK, announced that it had secured funding from Singapore’s Golden Gate Ventures and Chinese investment firm ZWC Partners. Although officially undisclosed, regional media reported the funding was to the tune of $15m.

This development is a seen as a vote of confidence in GoPlay, which was launched in September last year.

Elsewhere, telecoms company Airtel Nigeria expanded into television services in January following the launch of its Airtel TV platform.

While there has been growth in some streaming services during the period of COVID-19 restrictions, that demand has not always translated into profits.

Regional media reported earlier this month that the Malaysian-headquartered, pan-Asia streaming service iflix is in talks to sell its operations amid persistent losses and debt troubles, while the company has ended its streaming operations in Bangladesh.

Notwithstanding such cases, the proliferation of local digital options is a positive indication of the digital economy growth potential in emerging markets.

Courtesy: Published at The Phuket News on June 25, 2020 by Oxford Business Group

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Grab teams up with farmers for fresh fruit delivery service


Local produce farmers and merchants are getting some help distributing fresh fruits from Grab Thailand. The company already has a smart phone application for ride-sharing and food delivery. Now fresh produce will be delivered through GrabMart’s Farmers’ Market feature.

At the moment, the fresh fruit delivery is only available in Bangkok with distribution centres at the Or Tor Kor Market and Bon Marche Market Park. The fruits come from various provinces in Thailand. A spokesperson for Grab said 10 more centres are planned to open in the next month.

Mangos, durian, lychee, mangosteen and bananas from local farmers and merchants will be delivered through Grab as part of the campaigns “Grab Loves Thais” and “Grab Loves Farmers”. The company expects 40,000 orders of fruit by the end of the year. The spokesperson did not say how much of a cut of the profits Grab gets from the fruit sales.

The advisor to the agriculture and cooperatives minister touts the new digital delivery service and says e-commerce generates 3 trillion baht for the economy.

“Enabling farmers to use digital platforms could ensure better product prices as farmers can reach customers directly.”

While Grab is launching new campaigns and services, Bangkok Post says the company is face hard times amid the pandemic. Grab Holding said it would cut 360 employee, or 5 % of the total, to reduce expenses.

Courtesy: Published at The Thaiger on June 23, 2020 by Bangkok Post

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Poll shows flea markets, supermarkets, most popular with Thais as lockdown easing continues


A new poll shows that most Thais are anxious to return to markets and supermarkets first, as the country continues to relax the restrictions imposed during the Covid-19 crisis. A report in Nation Thailand says over 83% of those surveyed are prioritising markets, flea markets and supermarkets, with fewer than 49% saying they want to return to department stores, and just over 40% saying hair and beauty salons are high on their list.

Recently reopened cinemas may be quiet for a bit longer, as a whopping 91% of Thais say they don’t want to visit movie theatres right now. Nearly 84% say they’re not interested in visiting airports, 83% say they won’t be going to beauty clinics, and over 81% say massage parlours are out.

In terms of how the Thai government can boost domestic tourism between July and October, nearly 52% say they’d prefer a cash handout, while 24% say they’d like the tax on hotel and restaurant bills to be reduced. Just over 21% say they’d prefer discount vouchers for hotels and restaurants.

Over 46% of Thais want the Songkran holidays moved to the (western) New Year period, while over 33% say they’d prefer to get them in September as there are no public holidays that month. 20% say they’d be happy to have the holidays granted at any stage this year.

A total of 1,204 people were canvassed in the poll, which was carried out by the Bangkok University Research Centre.

Courtesy: Published at The Thaiger on June 16, 2020 by Nation Thailand

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Schools, colleges, universities to reopen, restaurants and hotels can serve alcohol from Monday


The spokesman for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration announced yesterday that schools, colleges and other educational institutes will be allowed to re-open on Monday, and alcohol can again be served in restaurants and hotels, but NOT in pubs, bars or other entertainment venues.

The national curfew is also being lifted as of Monday.

International schools and tuition schools are allowed to resume operations. Private and government schools can open for a maximum 120 students at a time. Other institutes, including universities, can begin seminars and workshops.

Gatherings for ceremonies such as weddings, meetings, exhibitions, concerts, performances and events wil be permitted under the following conditions:

  • Meetings and seminars must provide a space of 4 square metres per participant.
  • Spectators at events, exhibitions, contests, or sports competitions must sit or stand at least a metre apart, and music performances or concerts must provide 5 metres square per attendee.
  • Alcohol can be sold in restaurants, hotels and retail stores, but entertainment venues, pubs, bars and karaoke parlours will remain closed.
  • Daycare centres for young children and seniors can reopen but must provide 2 square metres per person and check body temperatures.
  • Science centres for learning can open to a limited number of visitors.
  • Film and TV shoots will be allowed a maximum 150 crew members while studio audiences are capped at 50.
  • Massage shops spas and saunas will be permitted to reopen, but with mandatory mask-wearing, hand cleansing, and social distancing of 5 square metres between customers
  • Group exercise in parks will be allowed for groups of up to 50 people, with 5 square metres between participants.
  • Amusement and water parks can also reopen, but customer numbers are limited to 1 per 4 square metres, while ball pits and bouncy castles must remain shut.
  • Sports competition will be allowed but no spectators will be allowed in stadiums; only broadcast is allowed.
  • Game booths and game centres may open but shop operators are responsible for keeping them clean.
  • Domestic flights face no seating restrictions, but all passengers must wear face masks on board.

Courtesy: Published at The Thaiger on June 13, 2020 by The Nation Thailand

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B2.9bn to restart grassroots businesses


PHUKET: A total of B2.9 billion is to be spent on revitalizing the local economy through 103 projects to help businesses restart in the aftermath of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Phuket Governor has announced.

The funds are being provided by the Ministry of Interior, Governor Phakaphong Tavipatana told a meeting on Friday (June 5).

The funds are to be allocated to business projects approved via the tambon (OrBorTor and municipalities) and district administrative offices, he said.

The projects must be vetted to ensure they are under the framework of  the national economic and social rehabilitation policy before being forwarded to a provincial committee headed by Governor Phakaphong for approval.

In total, the Phuket government has been allocated B2,925,349,937 in order to support 103 projects, the Governor explained.

The projects must be related to agriculture; product development, and include marketing plans; community tourism; creative travelling; community water resources or community infrastructure, he said.

Courtesy: Published at The Phuket News on June 8, 2020

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Bars, massage parlours may be be allowed to reopen in Phase 4


Drinking at a bar and a massage at some of the country’s larger massage parlour may become possible again in Phase 4 of the lifting of restrictions, originally enacted to contain the spread of Covid-19. Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration spokesman Dr. Taweesilp Wisanuyothin says that such venues are being considered for the fourth phase of reopening, as no local transmissions have been detected in nearly 2 weeks.

No date was given and 17 new cases were confirmed yesterday, but all were imported by Thais returning from abroad. 13 had returned from Kuwait, 2 from Qatar, and 2 from Saudi Arabia. All were brought home under a program to repatriate the thousands of Thais stranded abroad after international arrivals were banned.

Other businesses proposed for reopening included schools, nurseries, science centres, conference rooms, film and TV production, amusement and water parks, national parks, beaches and entertainment venues and events.

As for bars and massage parlours, Dr. Taweesilp suggested they are far from ready to move forward at this stage.

“I have to say I’m worried about these places because of our reports that a lot of masseuses were infected, and there were super-spreader infection cases from bars in foreign countries like South Korea. If you want your businesses to gain permission to reopen as quickly as possible, you have to show us how you’re going to control disease spreading among 200-300 people.”

Dr. Taweesilp has cited the same report of infections spreading from a South Korean bar for a month to argue for the ongoing prohibition of bars and alcohol sales at all restaurants, an important source of revenue in those establishments. Despite permission to reopen, many remain closed as the alcohol ban would make it unprofitable.

As of this morning, limited testing has discovered 3,101 total infections, and the death toll stands at 58.

The government is looking to increase the number of repatriation flights, and recently announced plans to increase the daily number of arrivals from 400 to 500.

Courtesy: Published at The Thaiger on June 5, 2020 by Coconuts Bangkok

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Central buys Family Mart Thailand


Shopping centre operator Central Retail Corporation has bought 100% of Family Mart, one of Thailand’s major convenience store chains, as it “moves forward to develop a new business model to cater to modern consumers”. CRC’s chief executive officer says the acquisition will strengthen Central’s hold on the food market and convenience store business in Thailand, which is burgeoning.

Since 2012, CRC has partnered with Japan Family Mart with its subsidiary SFM Holdings holding a 50.65% stake and Robinson Plc holding a 0.35% stake in Central Family Mart Ltd, the local operator of the Family Mart chain in Thailand. Yesterday’s acquisition saw CRC snap up the remaining 49% from the Japanese partner making it the sole owner of FamilyMart’s Thailand operations.

A spokesman says that over the past 8 years, CRC has been working to improve the franchise’s business model and expand its product offering, as well as its domestic presence.

“Family Mart has become a destination with ready-to-eat meals, beverages, fresh coffee and open spaces for people to come mix and mingle 24 hours a day. Currently, FamilyMart has 1,000 stores nationwide, and we plan to continue expanding our stores, as we are committed to investing for our future growth.”

“The acquisition of Family Mart is in line with CRC’s strategy to strengthen its retail and service platform, reaffirm our leading position in retail business, as well as to increase our offering of full-scale services through customer-centric omni-channels.”

Earlier this year, Family Mart introduced 24/7 coin washing machines to cater to consumers’ busy lifestyles. Recently, it also launched “Food Drink Container Mart” machines, as well as vending machines to offer more convenience to consumers.

As consumers today demand faster services, Family Mart has also partnered with Grab Thailand to allow customers to have items delivered using the GrabMart application.

Courtesy: Published at The Thaiger on May 28, 2020 by The Nation

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Now is not the time to run and hide


As events are being cancelled and postponed due to the effects of COVID-19, rights holders and brands are faced with unprecedented challenges and questions about how best to manage the situation. Naturally, a lot of people ask themselves what the industry will look like on the ‘other side’.

Over the last couple of months, we have worked with clients, sponsors and partners, helping them make a decision on what to do with their rights packaging and what ‘bounce back’ activities to undertake. Every client, sponsor and partner is different but there are a few principles and notions that, in our opinion, are worth taking into account during this time.

  • It is easy – and in some cases mandatory – to postpone an event, however, we believe that rights holders that go ‘against the tide’ will be long-term winners. What that looks like will depend on each individual case but now is the time to get creative and test new formats, setups and distribution channels.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has created a buyer’s market for sponsorship rights – brands are looking for deals and are incentivised to be creative.
  • There is huge value in the market for brands brave enough to commit budget rather than wait until a return to normality.
  • There is a clear opportunity for brands not just to be seen as supporting rights holders who are affected financially by prolonged disruption to the calendar, but to be the brand that was there in times of uncertainty. This is a unique opportunity to strengthen relationships and increase brand loyalty.
  • Make the best of the downtime. Engage your core audiences through insightful and interactive virtual events such as seminars and workshops to strengthen the community – not just to sell. Share experiences, take in new ideas and strengthen brand loyalty in the process.

Many are wondering what consumer demand will look like once lockdown restrictions ease. Will consumers be fearful of travel, live events and socialising, or will we return to pre-pandemic numbers and if so, how fast? Data suggests that after prolonged restrictions like the ones seen in many countries around the world, consumers are eager to resume some resemblance of normality. According to a survey carried out by IMI International, there is a pent up demand to attend sporting and charity events, concerts and festivals. Now is the time to prepare.

There is no doubt that these are challenging times, however, it is the actors who are arming themselves with the best-available data and making tangible plans on how to move forward in an uncertain environment that are most likely to come out on the other side best prepared to navigate this new reality. That means finding the bridge between your products and services and new needs and mindsets: sell to help – not to move product. Stay active – a lot of marketing activity does not require physical proximity; you can still make powerful marketing happen.

Paul Poole is the founder, managing director and chairman of Paul Poole (South East Asia) Co Ltd, an independent marketing consultancy based in Bangkok, Thailand. The company specialises in commercial sponsorship and partnership marketing, working with both rights holders and brands. Paul Poole (South East Asia) Co., Ltd. has packaged, sold and managed sponsorship and partnership opportunities for a number of Southeast Asia’s leading events. /

Courtesy: Published at The Phuket News on May 2, 2020 by Paul Poole

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Coronavirus benefits online companies


Food delivery companies, online stores, and online coaching have grown several times during the coronavirus pandemic. Visits to major online movie theaters such as Netflix, HBO and other sites increased by more than a third. This is reported by the portal IQ OPTION.

Thus, quarantine associated with epidemics turned out to be beneficial for a number of businesses, such as the social network Facebook, Google, Amazon and other online sites. Their shares are growing, while traditional business such as tourism, restaurants, hotels, oil and gas sales, real estate, are on the verge of bankruptcy.

Experts recommend investing in the most stable currencies in the world such as the Japanese yen and precious metals, such as gold.

Note that The central bank predicts Thailand’s economy will contract 5.3% this year, the weakest since the 1998 Asian financial crisis.

Courtesy: Published at The Phuket News on April 21, 2020

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