(Press Release) BANGKOK, THAILAND – Organizers of the Bangkok Gems and Jewelry Fair are inviting visitors to the 57th Bangkok Gem and Jewelry Fair (BGJF) held at the IMPACT Challenger in Bangkok from Feb. 24-28.

In recent years the fair has grown into one of the biggest industry shows in the world. The 57th BGJF is expected to draw tens of thousands of buyers from all around the world, including the US, EU, Russia, China, ASEAN and the Middle East. “Come and enjoy our famous Thai hospitality,” says Suttipong Damrangsakul, the president of the Thai Gem and Jewelry Traders Association (TGJTA).

The committee is offering accommodation in one of Bangkok’s hotels for international visitors. A free hotel coupon can be obtained by registering online at www.bangkokgemsfair.com.

Somchai Phornchindarak, president of the Gems, Jewelry and Precious Metal Confederation of Thailand (GJPCT), expects that the 57th BGJF will offer a high quality of gemstones. “You come to Thailand to get the best, anywhere else you are getting the second best,” he says.

The 40-year plus veteran of the industry adds that Thailand has developed an international reputation for the finest quality coloured stones – or Ploi Thai – in the world. Whereas once the country’s fame was solely for excavating the precious gems, this is no longer the case.

“Thailand has a hundred-year history with gems,” he says. “But now we no longer have our own gems. Ploi Thai is the Thailand country brand; it doesn’t matter where the stones come from they are assembled in Thailand. When you think of coloured stones you think of Thailand, that’s why we call it Ploi Thai.”

Somchai believes that Thailand is set to become the gem hub not just of ASEAN but of the world. “In three to five years time, Thailand will become gem hub of ASEAN, but we will not rest there,” he says. “I want it to be capital of the world, that’s why we are asking for government support.”

Recent discussions with the Thai government towards securing zero duty status for the industry – to bring it closer to Hong Kong – are starting to bear fruit, according to Somchai. He partially attributes this to the unification of the 13 gems and jewelry associations under a single body under the GJPCT.

The package, subject to be formalized by the Thai government, includes the exemption of VAT for imports of finished diamonds and gemstones for manufacturing, rough stones for manufacturing and sale, machinery tools and essential materials.

Both Somchai and Suttipong believe that the government will ratify the proposals before the 58th BGJF in September 2016. “We’re 90 percent there,” says Suttipong. “By September we will have better tools to compete with Hong Kong.”

Suttipong believes that recent global economic downturns, that have badly affected the luxury industry, could play to the advantage of the 57th BGJF. Buyers that used to hunt in packs of threes attending shows all over the globe are now becoming increasingly discerning.

“Thailand is at center of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), a new community of 600 million people,” he says. “Buyers can reach new suppliers from the AEC, and suppliers can reach international buyers – all in a one-stop expo.”

The 57th BGJF57 will be held at the Challenger Hall 1-3, Impact Muang Thong Thani, Bangkok from Feb. 24-28, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Ministry of Public Health: No ZIKA Outbreak in Thailand

Thailand received a clean bill of health in advance of the 57th Bangkok Gems & Jewelry Fair.

The Ministry of Public Health has reported that there has been no outbreak of the ZIKA virus in Thailand. Minister of Public Health, Dr Piyasakol Sakolsattayathon said that the first case of ZIKA infection in Thailand was reported in 2012. Since then there have been an average of five cases per year. Only one ZIKA infection had been reported in Thailand so far this year, the minister added.

Dr. Piyasakol Sakolsattayathon urged the public to remain calm as most ZIKA patients recover by themselves without any need for hospitalization. However, he warned that the disease is linked to abnormalities in infants whose mothers might have been exposed to the virus during pregnancy.

Director-general of the Department of Disease Control, Dr. Amnuay Kachina, said the best way to prevent the ZIKA disease was to avoid being bitten by dengue mosquitoes.

Dr. Amnuay also announced that an Omani citizen, who had contracted MERS, is in a stable condition. The patient has been receiving treatment at Bangkok’s Bamrasnaradura Hospital since Jan. 23.

Strict security measures are in place at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport to detect infected passengers. The Airport Authority of Thailand (AOT) has thermal scanners which determine travelers who are at risk. Any incoming passenger showing ZIKA- or MERS-like symptoms, will be separated from other passengers and be sent to check up with a public health officer or doctor.

The Department of Disease Control said it was asking airlines to primarily screen passengers before boarding.

All travelers arriving to Thailand from a MERS-affected area within the past two weeks should either visit a hospital or call the Department of Disease Control Hotline on 1422 if they develop a fever or acute respiratory tract infection, such as a cough or flu-like symptoms. Pregnant women are advised to avoid travelling to ZIKA-affected countries.

The 57th Bangkok Gems & Jewelry Fair will be held at the IMPACT Exhibition and Convention Center from Feb. 24-28.

VIP Service for BGJF Delegates

Delegates for the 57th Bangkok Gems & Jewelry Fair BGJF57 will receive a VIP Fast Track Service.

A delegation of the Gems, Jewelry and Precious Metal Confederation of Thailand (GJPCT) and the Thai Gem and Jewelry Traders Association (TGJTA) met with senior officers of the Airports of Thailand (AOT) and other relevant agencies at the Novotel, Suvarnabhumi Airport on Feb. 4. The aim of the meeting was to agree fast track immigration procedures for delegates attending the 57th Bangkok Gems & Jewelry Fair (BGJF57), held at the IMPACT Exhibition and Convention Center from Feb. 24-28.

Somchai Phornchindark, president of the Gems, Jewelry and Precious Metal Confederation of Thailand (GJPCT), stated that the Fast Track initiative is an important facility for all overseas delegates.

“The BGJF is a world class fair that is supported by the Thai gems and jewelry industry, which has ascended to become the country’s third largest exporter,” says Somchai Phornchindark. “The Fast Track service is very much needed to create a world class image and a great service to attract the best buyers from around the world."

Thailand offers a Fast Track VIP Service for all MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibition Visitors) through the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB).

Delegates signed up for the service will be greeted upon arrival and escorted to the Priority Immigration Desk and baggage claim. A VIP lounge and police escort is also available upon request. Delegates wishing to benefit from the service need to submit forms, available on request from the BGJF organizing committee to the TCEB prior to arrival.

Delegates signed up for the Fast Track VIP procedure are requested to wear business attire and fill in their immigration cards before disembarking the plane. Those delegates who need a visa on arrival should fill out the visa application form and bring one photograph (4x6cm) and 1,000 Thai baht in cash. The service is only available for delegates arriving at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport.

Sombut Chiowanicha, general manager of Malca-Amit (Thailand) Ltd, which manages freight for the AOT, assured that it was not just delegates who would receive the VIP service. “Security is the heart of our freight service,” he says. “We use a bulletproof vehicle to transfer the goods with police officers monitoring, and also CCTVs. Our warehouse is fully equipped with security cameras. We also offer insurance for exhibitors who use our services as the goods are high value."

All freight imported for BGJF57 will be duty free, providing the appropriate paperwork is supplied to the customs department.

"If exhibitors hand-carry the products for BGJF in the country they will also get a fast track service at the customs counter upon arrival at the airport," Chiowanicha added.