Thailand’s world-renowned Full Moon Party has been on hiatus for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now that the country has relaxed restrictions and authorized tourism activities, could the event return, or would it have to adapt to the post-COVID-19 era?
Haad Rin Beach on Koh Pha Ngan used to be overrun by backpackers and partygoers to witness the sundown on a full moon.
Before the health crisis, the beach hummed to the beat of rock music, and the bars that line its waters used to serve free-flow exotic and potent cocktails in buckets. The popular event started as a hippie gathering on the beach in the 1980s but ended up being a monthly gathering with up to 30,000 partiers.
However, some fear that this may be the end of the line for the vibrant, rowdy party.
The devastating pandemic has put the event on hold, and measures to control the spread of the virus appear to hinder its return. Also, while it has been a source of income for Koh Pha Ngan, as it attracted over a million visitors each year, critics have highlighted the downsides of such a large celebration.
Bad press has pointed to the potential dangers of the activity, mentioning drugs, alcohol abuse, petty theft, and bad behavior by revelers.
Nonetheless, the Full Moon Party’s return represents a recovery opportunity for the thousands of local companies, vendors, and workers. Business owners, including those working in hotels, restaurants, bars, food stalls and taxis, believe that the event is crucial to the island’s economy.
But they recognize that there are some key areas to improve.
Local authorities in the Surat Thani province, which governs the island, ordered a halt to business and commercial operations on the beach in 2020. Since then, speculation has grown.
The requests for a more sustainable, regulated and calm event have increased, as well as the calls for the definitive closure of the Full Moon Party.
Organizers have also reaffirmed the need to impose COVID-19 measures, such as using masks and social distancing, to bring the event back in the near future. They also propose to welcome higher-quality companies to control the wild atmosphere and reduce criticism.
Many say that there is much more to Koh Phangan than just the party.
The island already has activities, events, and venues that can support tourism. However, those who have attended the Full Moon Party claim that there is nothing that compares to the great magic that this celebration brings.
The one-year hiatus is expected to allow organizers to make improvements and bring a renewed, long-lasting style to the party.