BANGKOK, 20 March 2014: A Singapore company’s decision to host its own version of a “Songkran” festival in the city-state, next month, has prompted the Tourism Authority of Thailand to consult with other state agencies to see if legal action can be taken to protect Thailand’s cultural heritage.
The Singapore “Celebrate Songkran 2014” is being organised by a private company and not the state’s tourism board. The event will be held at the Padang, an open field opposite Singapore’s City Hall 12 to 13 April. Water splashing will be limited to the park area only.
TAT deputy governor for Tourism Products, Vilaiwan Twichasri, said she would hold talks with officials from the Department of Intellectual Property, Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Culture to study intellectual property provisions.
If the law allows, TAT believes it could take legal steps to prevent other ASEAN nations from conducting and organising traditional cultural activities based on Thai arts and culture, such as Songkran and Loy Krathong festival.
However, Songkran is not exclusively a Thai cultural asset. It is a national festival of Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos and also celebrated by Dai people in Yunnan in China, Sri Lanka and India.
“The Singapore event will not impact on tourism during this year’s Songkran holiday. But it may have a detrimental long-term impact if it were held every year in a neighbouring country, since it could influence where international tourists decide to visit,” the TAT official said.
Songkran is celebrated in Thailand from 13 to 15 April and TAT will spend Bt20 million to support activities in 13 provinces 5 to 20 April.
The 13 provinces included in its promotion are: Bangkok; Chiang Mai; Sukhothai; Chon Buri; Suphan Buri; Ayutthaya; Nakhon Phanom; Khon Kaen; Nong Khai; Hat Yai; Nakhon Si Thammarat; Phuket; and Samut Prakan.
Four of them – Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen and Chon Buri – are expected to welcome more than 200,000 people each.
TAT estimates tourism spending will grow by 14.63% to Bt4.7 billion compared with Bt4.1 billion during the same festival days last year.
Around 4.4 million tourists will join the festival up 10% from 4 million, but most of them will be domestic travellers with 400,000 overseas visitors.