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Movies in a Covid world – The case for the return of the Drive In

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One of the industries hard hit by the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak has been the film industry. At both ends the industry has been shuttered – the making of the movies and then the watching of the movies in cinemas.

At some stage the movie making machine will chug back to life and, sometime, we’ll be allowed to go back to the cinemas to enjoy expensive bottles of water and over-priced popcorn. In the meantime there has been a surge of ideas to get people back to the movies whilst we wait for some sort of new-normal to emerge.

Direct to TV, to be enjoyed whilst you eat pizzas whilst sitting in your underwear at home, has been an option but, hey, we want the experience of the really big screen and the shared audience reaction.

Whilst the concept of the Drive In has never been big in Thailand, it was a ‘thing’ in many western countries for a certain generation. Indeed attending (or enduring) a film at the Drive In was a right of passage. There are plenty of roof-top cinemas and other small scale outside versions but it’s not quite the same as rolling up in your car, reclining the seat and turning the sound up loud in your very own car.

Cars are spaced out across a plot of land, in a very appropriately social-distanced manner. Maybe the scourge of Covid-19 is what we needed for a second wave of Drive Ins. For Thailand, it would be something new. The technology is simple – all you need is a car, an FM radio (to hear the soundtrack), a HUGE screen, an equally HUGE digital projector and an open area.

According to Comscore, out of 306 drive in theatres in the US, only about 50 are currently open. Australia had the third highest number of drive-ins of all countries, only behind the US and Canada. Currently, most have closed and there are only 16 remaining drive in theatres still operating in Australia.

Please answer the questions in our little mini survey and let’s reflect on the past memories (some I am certainly unable to publish), likes, dislikes, antics and favourite moments at the once-popular drive in theatres.

What do you think about the return of Drive Ins? Click as many answers as you want

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Movies in a Covid world - The case for the return of the Drive In | News by The Thaiger

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Thailand

More than a third of Thai tourism-related businesses closed down

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More than a third of Thai tourism-related businesses closed down | The Thaiger

A Tourism Authority of Thailand survey, conducted between January 10 – 12, indicates that more than a third of the country’s tourism-related businesses has already shut up shop and gone out of business. An enormous majority were begging for TAT and government assistance fearing that they are unable to hand on much longer.

1,884 tourism businesses in Thailand were surveyed about their situations and how they were coping with the long-term closure of the Thai borders and the local restrictions on travel.

The businesses were in the areas of accommodation, travel firms, restaurants, car and bike rentals and public transport businesses.

34.7% said they had already shut down or gone out of business.

That the TAT admit that more than a third of their front-line organisations have gone to the wall already is a big turn-around from the perennially optimistic tone and often cringe-worthy predictions. The TAT and the Thai Minister of Tourism and ports are now staring down the barrel of an industry, not only diminished, but changed forever after decades of stunning growth.

At the start of the week the Tourism and Sports Minister claimed that 10 million tourists would start arriving on Thailand’s shores from the middle of this year for the rest of 2021. Just 3 months ago he also predicted that domestic tourists would undertake some 10 million trips a month during the forthcoming high season (December to February).

With only hope to back up his speculative predictions, the Minister was hopeful the stimulus measures approved by Cabinet will boost tourism numbers and help off-set some of the economic devastation caused by the closure of Thailand’s international borders.

This week’s prediction was that tourists, foreign and local, would be spending 1.2 Trillion baht on the battered tourist industry during 2021. He failed to provide details about where these tourists would come from or where they would visit during their stays – stays that still have to begin with a 14 day mandatory quarantine.

The only good news is a further 65% of businesses that continue to struggle on, waiting to see how 2021 unfolds and the effect of the roll out of Covid-19 vaccines, that will allow countries to open borders and a greater level of travel freedoms once again.

The break out of a cluster of infections in the Samut Sakhon province, just south west of Bangkok, and now spread to the majority of other Thai provinces, on December 20, forced the government to restrict inter provincial travel. The not-quite-a-lockdown that followed severely dampened the travel plans of locals and foreigners inside Thailand over the traditional December/January holiday season. This week the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority loosened some of the earlier restrictions and allowed some formerly closed businesses to re-open.

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Government is to allow people to use “legal” parts of cannabis in business

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Government is to allow people to use “legal” parts of cannabis in business | The Thaiger
PHOTO: The Thaiger

With intentions to promote cannabis as the country’s potential new cash crop, the government is preparing guideline to allow people to produce, sell or own cannabis and hemp. The permitted businesses, including textile, pharmaceutical, and cosmetics will be able to register to receive FDA permissions from January 29.

According to the FDA secretary-general, leaves, stalks, stems, roots, flowers, and seeds are not in a list of legal parts as they have high drug content (is there anything left?). Individuals are still not allowed to grow both cannabis and hemp without authorisation. Import and export of hemp must seek permission from the FDA Office as well.

Interested applicants in Bangkok can register at the FDA Office, while those in upcountry can contact the provincial public health offices. Courses and training about how to start a business using marijuana plants will be provided under the collaboration of the Education Ministry and Public Health Ministry.

However, a traditional medicine expert with Chaopraya Abhaiphubejhr Hospital, suggests that 6 groups of people should avoid food and drink with marijuana, including those with liver and kidney problems, heart disease patients, people aged below 25, pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and those taking stimulant medications.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Myanmar cancels Thai investment in the Dawei Special Economic Zone

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Myanmar cancels Thai investment in the Dawei Special Economic Zone | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Environment Justice Atlas

The Dawei Special Economic Zone Management Committee has announced the cancellation on the deep seaport project contract with Italian-Thai Development (ITD), one of Thailand’s leading industrial firms, by saying that they “lost confidence” in the company after long, controversial issues.

The Dawei Special Economic Zone Management Committee said that the Thai company has caused them “repeated delays, continuing breaches of financial obligations under the contracts and the concessionaires’ failure to confirm their financial capacity to proceed with development”.

They say they will look for new development partners to continue the projects. Currently, there are still no comments from ITD.

The Dawei Special Economic Zone is Myanmar’s initiative to encourage international investments into the country, but the project has been delayed because of funding problems and local opposition.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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