Call for a cleaner tourism festival

BANGKOK, 14 January 2019: Thailand is once more hosting a curtain raiser festival to spur strong tourism growth in the first quarter of the year.

Last week, Tourism Authority of Thailand governor, Yuthasak Supasorn, outlined details of the Thailand Tourism Festival 2019 that will be hosted 23 to 27 January in the Thai capital’s Lumphini Park.

Closing just days before the week-long Chinese New Year festival kicks off 2 February, this year’s tourism festival will feature nine zones covering both major and emerging destinations across Thailand.

Show organiser expect around 600,000 people to join festivities on the first day.  

However, for the first time the TAT governor emphasised that the festival would adopt measures to reduce, or eliminate the use of single-use plastic and foam food containers, in order to cut the waste that piles up during mega festival events.

He called on visitors both local and residents to use cotton bags, reusable water bottles and environmentally friendly food packaging.

While the festival will generate at around THB400 million in earnings for vendors and suppliers, previous shows exerted a high cost in garbage clearance and management. At last year’s show the scene resembled a landfill plot covered in plastic garbage. Festival fans dumped food and plastic waste indiscriminately covering the entire park. It took days to clear up the garbage discarded over the five-day event.

The TAT governor said the message in 2019 was to achieve sustainability in tourism, develop quality over volume and ensure tourism could co-exist with the environment and play a role in conservation rather than the destruction of heritage and natural assets.

He told a press conference that December’s tourist arrivals would confirm the year closed with an improvement in the Chinese tourist market that had already exceeded 10 million visits, January to November.

Visa exemption measures for tourists at immigration checkpoints, the waiver of the THB2,000 visa-on-arrival fee, extended to the end of April this year, have played a role in stimulating tourist arrivals over the last month of 2018. This trend should continue into February and March.  

Looking forward to the end of the first quarter of this year, he forecast the country would welcome 2.7 million Chinese tourists.

He estimated that 2018 closed with tourism revenue peaking at THB1.997 trillion generated by international tourists and another THB1 trillion from domestic travel giving the country gross tourism earnings of THB 3 trillion million, around 20% of GDP.

Tourist arrivals, January to December 2018, closed at 38.1 million up from 35.5 million in 2017.