The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) will introduce new marketing campaigns aimed at boosting travel over the coming peak hot season to ensure it meets this year's domestic tourism revenue goal of 453 billion baht.
Visitors walk over a pool filled with suffering souls in hell at Wat Rong Khun in Chiang Rai. The spot is one among several popular Buddhist symbols that attract dhamma tourism travellers. SAYANT PORNNANTHARAT
It will try to give an alternative meaning to "full moon" with its Full Moon Meditation campaign in a bid to send a message that the lunar event is good for more than just partying.
Temples in major provinces nationwide will host meditation events on full moon days to encourage Buddhists to meditate more and explore their religion, said Thawatchai Arunyik, the tourism agency's deputy governor for the domestic market.
The vast majority of Thais are Buddhist, and the TAT has been successful in promoting "dhamma tourism" in recent years, such as with its 9 Temples in 1 Day campaign.
Another popular event has been Pray for a Year, held mostly on New Year's Eve and organised by major temples nationwide.
Full Moon Meditation was kicked off last month in Bangkok's Patumwananurak Park, located between Siam Paragon and CentralWorld.
This month, it will expand to temples in Kanchanaburi, Chon Buri, Nakhon Si Thammarat and Nakhon Phanom provinces.
The TAT is also working with major cities to encourage interregional travel.
"Domestic tourism plays an important role. Interregional travel in particular helps to generate revenue directly for a community, because Thais like to buy up local souvenirs," said Mr Thawatchai.
He said Southerners love to take van trips to the North in groups of five or six, spending 5,000 baht per day per trip for a stay of four nights. He said popular routes include Ayutthaya-Nakhon Sawan-Chiang Mai/Chiang Rai.
The TAT will soon hold a roadshow in Chiang Mai, Rayong, Hat Yai and Cha-am to promote domestic tourism.
It projects the number of domestic trips at 108 million this year, with interregional travel accounting for 30-40% of the number.
Next month, the TAT will kick off its Long Rak Prathet Thai (In Love with Thailand) domestic tourism campaign, featuring the popular fortune teller Kata Chinabunchorn.
The campaign will promote Thai communities, temple history and royally sponsored schools to high-end tourists.
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- Writer: Chadamas Chinmaneevong