WARNING: Graphic photos and video below.
After months and months of an economic slowdown induced by the coronavirus pandemic and the lack of tourists, thousands of people are expected to arrive to Phuket over the next 2 weeks to take part in the annual Vegetarian Festival. It’s expected to generate more than 350 million baht, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand Governor Yuthasak Supasorn.
The festival, scheduled to run from Saturday until October 25, is more known for the street processions involving self-mutilation than it is for the vegetarian food. Crowds of people line the streets, watching so-called “mah songs” walk by. The mah songs often practice self-mutilation to enter a trance-like state and channel spirits during the event.
“We expect 60,000 tourists and local people to join the festival. Most of the tourists will come from nearby provinces, up to about 300 kilometres from Phuket.”
The expected revenue isn’t as high as it’s been in the past, but Yuthasak says it will still help stimulate tourism and the local economy. He says 54 of the 200 hotels open in Phuket report about 20% of their rooms are booked for weekdays.
“We expect the festival to generate more than 350 million baht. Even though the number cannot be as high as past years, in a situation like this, it will help to stimulate tourism and the economy well.”
Those at the festival will also need to abide by “new normal” rules to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Along with typical measures, like wearing a mask and social distancing, mah songs have been asked by the mayor to “limit the level of torturing.”
SOURCE: Phuket News
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