Thailand aims to transform local festivals into renowned attractions

The National Soft Power Strategy Committee of Thailand is setting its sights on transforming traditional events into world-renowned festivals throughout the country’s 77 provinces. This objective will be achieved through comprehensive research and festival organisation training.

The committee’s vice president, Dr Surapong Suebwonglee, highlighted the need to better manage the country’s numerous attractions. He opined that the country’s festivals, if harnessed effectively, could significantly boost the tourism sector. This could be especially true for annual flagship festivals, which are capable of consistently attracting a substantial number of tourists.

Focusing on the government’s flagship policy of soft power, Dr Surapong drew parallels with South Korea’s successful utilisation of cultural products to escape the middle-income trap. He asserted that Thailand has the potential to follow a similar trajectory.

According to Dr Surapong, events such as Songkran and Loy Krathong need to be elevated to world-class festivals. To achieve this, he suggested more research and training of personnel, in coordination with academies across all provinces.

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He also proposed that each province should establish its own soft power committee. These committees would be responsible for creating unique city festivals, setting them apart from others. Initial projects could be launched in provinces that already have sufficient infrastructure, manpower, and assets, with Nakhon Ratchasima being a prime candidate due to its established local soft power committee.

Dr Surapong emphasised the central role of the private sector in leading most festivals, with the government functioning as a facilitator and securing momentum from investors.

A draft of the Thailand Creative Content Agency (THACCA) Act is currently open for public opinion until the end of April. This legislation aims to establish a one-stop service agency for promoting festivals and ten other soft power industries. The draft is scheduled for submission to the Cabinet for legislation preparation by mid-next year.

In anticipation of the THACCA Act, the fiscal budget related to soft power promotion would be distributed through various bodies such as the Tourism Authority of Thailand, the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), or the Culture Ministry.

TCEB President Chiruit Isarangkun Na Ayuthaya identified five potential sectors for festival organisation in Thailand: art and culture, creative and lifestyle, entertainment, sports, and innovation. He revealed that TCEB plans to support more than 30 large events and festivals in fiscal 2024, which are expected to attract around 2.3 million visitors and generate over 3.6 billion baht.

Among the notable events lined up are the Money 20/20 Expo in Bangkok in April, the Mango Art Festival in Bangkok in May, and the Isan Creative Festival in Khon Kaen, scheduled to take place from June 29 to July 7, reported Bangkok Post.

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