The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Amazing Thailand’s ‘Open to the New Shades’ marketing concept is at the heart of its ‘Grand Songkran Celebrations’ in Bangkok and 12 major tourist destinations around the Kingdom.
These include festivities in Samut Prakan, Ayutthaya, Suphan Buri, Chon Buri, Sukhothai, Chiang Mai, Lampang, Nakhon Phanom, Nong Khai, Khon Kaen, Phuket, and Songkhla with event dates varying, with some starting as early as April 7 and running until April 20.
In addition, TAT is also supporting Amazing Songkran 2018 events in five emerging secondary destinations known for unique traditions in celebrating the Thai New Year: Sing Buri, Chanthaburi, Kamphaeng Phet, Kalasin, and Nakhon Si Thammarat. Dates also vary between April 11 and 17.
Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, TAT Governor, said: “Songkran is one of Thailand’s most important festivals. It is a time when families celebrate with centuries-old traditions, returning to their family homes for three to five days of making merit and water splashing ceremonies, which invokes sins being washed away with scented water.
“The main activity is pouring this scented water on sacred Buddha images of local temples in a ritual called Song Nam Phra. Lustral water used to clean Buddhist statues has been regarded as a form of spiritual cleansing since ancient times. It is collected and then gently dripped over the hands of senior family members for luck in a ritual called Rot Nam Dam Hua.”
At the five emerging secondary destinations, locals and visitors can ‘Open to the New Shades’ and celebrate the Amazing Songkran 2018 Festival with nostalgic time-honoured rituals.
In Sing Buri, the celebration is centred around the ancient Ban Bang Rachan, an important settlement during the Ayutthaya period. Chanthaburi’s Wat Tapon Noi and Wat Kwien Hak annually hold a unique procession of decorated ox-carts parading sacred cloth of the Buddha to warn off bad luck.
In Kamphaeng Phet, where retro-traditions for Songkran are held along the Ping River, there is another Buddha image wrapping procession. The Phrae Wa silk city and dinosaur excavation sites in Kalasin are prominently featured as its two time-honoured symbols of the Songkran tradition.
In Nakhon Si Thammarat, the religious element of the celebrations takes on a distinctly Hindu feel, with Brahmin ceremonies and rituals as well as the must-attend Nang Dan parade.
During April 12-16, 2018, TAT expects tourism spending from foreign and Thai travellers to reach Bt19.8 billion, up 18 per cent from the same period last year. Of the total, Bt9.4 billion will be spent by an expected number of 530,000 foreign tourists, representing an increase of 21 per cent and 13 per cent, respectively. Domestic tourism spending is estimated to reach Bt10.44 billion (up 15 per cent) from Thai travellers making about 3 million trips (up 12 per cent).
-Tha Nation, April 2018