New Year celebrations not cancelled yet, officials say

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) backs New Year countdowns and celebrations going ahead as planned as long as the government does not order any cancellations.

TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn said at the moment, the TAT has not yet received any warning that an order of this nature is forthcoming after a number of provinces decided to downgrade their countdown events this year.

Neither the tourism minister nor Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha had given any indication that events supported by private sector partnerships across 12 provinces were in jeopardy, he said.

Many operators had also requested permission to add an official blessing ceremony for Her Royal Highness Princess Bajrakitiyabha Narendiradebyavati in their events.

The TAT itself will host its own New Year countdowns in two locations — Bangkok and Hat Yai — which it hopes will serve as a thank you to those who have worked ceaselessly to boost tourism in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, said Mr Yuthasak.

“The Amazing Thailand Countdown 2023 has been arranged to promote Thai domestic tourism — the key driver of the economy,” he said.

Bangkok’s event will be held at the pier beside Wat Phra Chetuphon (Wat Pho), with highlights including free concerts and fireworks with the music still set to go ahead as planned at the moment.

Meanwhile, the Amazing Thailand Countdown 2023 in Hat Yat will feature free concerts from Thai and Malaysian artists, a lighting projection exhibition and fireworks, as well as a special walking street.

Mr Yuthasak said Thailand would boast about 700,000–800,000 foreign tourists during the upcoming holiday week.

Average arrivals of 72,000 inbound tourists per day in December could help drive spending in this period to 26 billion baht, he said. As of Dec 20, inbound tourists had accounted for 10.9 million baht in spending.

Meanwhile, the TAT is predicting at least 34 million domestic trips will be made in December, while revenue contribution from the Thai market for the whole year is expected to reach 800 billion baht.

Thapanee Kiatphaibool, deputy governor for domestic marketing at the TAT, said hotels in Songkhla were now fully booked, with Malaysian tourists accounting for about 80% of the rooms. There are currently about 1.8 million Malaysian tourists in Thailand.

Meanwhile, some officials have asked for cooperation among their agencies to tone down the countdown celebration, including the Education Ministry, the Office of the Court of Justice and the Office of the Ombudsman.

In Pattaya, the New Year countdown is still going ahead, but there will not be a fireworks extravaganza on the nights of Dec 29-31.