Thailand To Elevate Traditional Events to World-Class Festivals

Thailand’s soft power committee is focused on transforming traditional events into globally recognized festivals throughout the nation’s 77 provinces, utilizing thorough research and training in festival management.

“I believe Thailand has numerous attractions, but in the past, we did not really manage our charm very well, and events tended to grow organically,” stated Dr. Surapong Suebwonglee, vice-president of the National Soft Power Strategy Committee.

Dr. Surapong emphasized that leveraging soft power as a key government strategy could help Thailand overcome the middle-income trap, similar to South Korea’s success with its cultural exports.

He noted that these festivals could significantly boost the tourism industry, particularly through major annual events that consistently attract a large number of visitors.

Dr. Surapong mentioned the need to elevate traditional events to global festival status, citing Songkran and Loy Krathong as examples.

He advocated for enhanced research and better training of staff, suggesting collaboration with educational institutions in each province.

Dr. Surapong proposed that each province should establish its own Soft Power Committee to craft distinctive local festivals that stand out from the rest.

He suggested starting pilot projects in provinces with adequate infrastructure, workforce, and resources, highlighting Nakhon Ratchasima as an exemplary location with an existing Soft Power Committee.

“Most festivals will be led by the private sector, while the government will act as a facilitator and secure the impetus from investors,” Dr. Surapong explained.

Public feedback is currently being sought for the draft of the Thailand Creative Content Agency (THACCA) Act, which aims to create a “one-stop service” agency to promote festivals and ten other soft power sectors, with a deadline set for the end of April.

The proposal is expected to be forwarded to the cabinet for legislative preparation by mid-next year.

Pending the THACCA Act, funds allocated for soft power promotion will be distributed through various agencies, including the Tourism Authority of Thailand, the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau, and the Culture Ministry, according to Dr. Surapong.

Chiruit Isarangkun Na Ayuthaya, president of TCEB, identified five key sectors for festival organization in Thailand: art and culture, creative lifestyle, entertainment, sports, and innovation.

For fiscal year 2024, TCEB plans to support more than 30 major events and festivals, projected to attract about 2.3 million visitors. These events are expected to generate more than 3.6 billion baht in revenue.

Upcoming highlights include the Money 20/20 Expo in Bangkok this April, the Mango Art Festival in Bangkok in May, and the Isan Creative Festival in Khon Kaen, scheduled from June 29 to July 7.