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‘Country of Festivals’: Officials Outline New Plans for Thai Tourism
01 April 2024 | Written by Chris Alexander

Thailand is home to a diverse array of cultures, celebrated in countless festivals throughout the year. The kingdom has also grown into a regional hub for international sporting, business and entertainment events. Leading officials are now planning to harness the appeal of these events, leveraging the kingdom’s cultural richness as a driver of inbound tourism arrivals.

In March, Thailand’s National Soft Power Strategy Committee outlined plans to lure international travellers to the Land of Smiles with new promotional campaigns that showcase the cultural richness of the kingdom to a wider audience.

“We want Thailand to become the country of festivals,” said Surapong Suebwonglee, who is the secretary of the committee. “We want our celebrations to beckon people to visit Thailand, while also ensuring that local people are actively engaged in soft power management.”

Surapong went on to elaborate that his committee is currently working alongside several agencies and members of the private and public sector to promote traditional festivals and cultural events all over the country. The strategy forms wider plans from the government to promote Thai culture and tap into the potential of the nation’s creative economy.

One of the committee’s main responsibilities will be to assign government funding swiftly and effectively. In previous years, tourism operators have cited delays in funding allocation as a major stumbling block to the promotion of seasonal events that are, by their very nature, time-bound. Surapong says his committee is using this year’s Songkran celebrations as a testing ground for strategies devised to resolve this issue.

Chiruit Isarangkun Na Ayuthaya is president of The Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), which is working alongside the committee to promote Thai festivals on the global stage and harness their potential as platforms for business opportunities. “This new approach signifies a shift towards using festivals as a platform to expand business opportunities,” explains Chiruit, who also revealed TCEB is focused on “high-spending individuals seeking unique experiences.”

Chiruit has identified three pillars that can support this development: securing world-class events with revenue-generating potential, like the 2029 International Horticultural Expo and the Formula E race in Chiang Mai; supporting business festivals that can open doors for the new generation, introduce innovative ideas, elevate personnel standards and simultaneously build an ecosystem within the industry; and developing the Festival Academy, which was launched three years ago in a bid to empower industry stakeholders.

“These three pillars are essential to reshaping the landscape and establishing a festival ecosystem in Thailand that aligns with global standards,” said Chiruit, before adding that TCEB has already committed its support to more than 30 festivals scheduled to take place in 2024, which are expected to attract around 2.3 million tourists and generate at least 3.6 billion baht in revenue for the Thai tourism economy.