The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has completely transformed for many, not only how we travel, but what we wear when we travel. Whilst some countries remain opposed to wearing masks, the majority (and particularly here in Thailand and across South East Asia, wearing masks has been common place long before Covid-19 surfaced.
For those not used to wearing them, they can be seen as restrictive, uncomfortable and even unfashionable in fashion conscious Asia but, we have to get used to wearing masks, for the foreseeable future - after all they are quite literally saving lives. , they are quite literally saving lives. Increasing pollution levels in our cities (and even mountains of northern Thailand in recent years), the common cold, fashion statements and now Covid-19, are all reasons we are seeing a resurgence of mask wearing across the region. They have indeed saved lives and right now, act as a safety precaution.
Together with practicing social distancing, covering your face in public places is essential to slowing the spread of COVID-19. According to the CDC, wearing a non-medical face mask, prevents the spread of respiratory droplets from an infected person, from landing in another person’s mouth or nose - in this way infecting him or her with the virus,
so instead of constantly throwing away disposable masks after each use, maybe we consider purchasing a few washable and reusable ones. Not only are they more environmentally-friendly but you actually get to choose the color and the print that fits your personal style the most. The once humble disposable mask, in its sterile white and blue colour is no more.
With many losing their jobs due to Covid-19, emerging Thai entrepreneurs are popping up everywhere from backstreets, to villages, sidewalks to mega malls, presenting an enterprising take on the humble masks. Not only creating as a result new jobs and enterprise, but with major fashion houses, hotels and tour operators jumping on board to make masks, your purchase will also be doing good within communities globally.
Boutique Tour Operator - Asian Oasis and Bangkok’s Florist to the stars - Heliconia have produced some stunning handmade fabric masks in recent weeks, working not only to promote the wearing of masks in fashion conscious Thailand, but also promoting a greater appreciation of nature and the natural world with their designs, inspired by the floral paintings of artist Jocelyn Haybittel.
Asian Oasis are another Thai owned company looking at ways they can work with local communities they support during the ongoing Covid Crisis. Owning lodges and cruises in Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Bangkok and Phuket and works to promote community tourism, and a different style of interaction between their guests and local communities they work with.
Lisu Lodge, located in Chiang Mai, Thailand the lodge works with a Lisu Hill Tribe community and has over the years, established a unique relationship that not only brings the Lisu people into an engaging and authentic interaction with guests from overseas and inside Thailand, they have set up various grass roots experiences and support local schools to promote education,
business skill development and other initiatives that enable the Lisu, to become more self-sufficient, giving opportunity to grow and develop their income sources, whilst maintaining their unique culture and traditions. Their latest initiative, sees them working with local women, to design masks that represent the colors and culture of the Lisu Hill Tribe. These beautiful handmade masks can be purchased through their Lisu lodge and online Line shop, with proceeds going towards women’s empowerment and education programs.
These are just two local companies, looking to make a difference during Thailand’s time of need, and in doing so it is show casing how community tourism and local enterprise, can turn even the most difficult of times into positive potential new opportunities.