Dress up and dumb down for discounts
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Dress up and dumb down for discounts

I'm so annoyed.

I know, I know, no one takes that statement seriously from me anymore as I can feel irritated if a pigeon flies too close to my head. But really, this time it's like someone fired off a round of stupidity bullets and I got hit straight in the heart, despite my attempts to dodge such dumbness.

Taking aim and shooting out yet another ludicrous idea is the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), who despite coming up with the catchy "Amazing Thailand Always Amazes You", has realised that not everyone is as amazed with all the amazing things that amazingly happen in this amazing country.

Thus, they have gone back to the country's roots by deeming 2015 the year of the "Discover Thainess" campaign. Unfortunately the only thing I have discovered since this gimmick launched is that their definition of Thainess is superficial and silly.  

The Bangkok Post reports that the TAT is collaborating with large mall groups nationwide to help raise awareness of "Thainess" during the Amazing Thailand Grand Sale, which takes place annually between Jun and Sep. 

Their brilliant plan involves offering shoppers, both local and foreign, hefty discounts of up to 80 per cent if they – wait for it – dress up in traditional Thai costume.

Whether or not this ploy is implemented (as terms and conditions vary based on participating retailers), I'm sure many of you can see the obvious flaws with this scheme.

Yes, it's completely artificial to lure shoppers under the pretence that dressing up in costume should entitle them to a discount. This will in no way ensure the permanence of people wearing traditional Thai garb, as the short-term reward only serves to reinforce it as a passing fad. I also don't see how any of this strengthens the concept of Thainess.

Most importantly, how shallow do they think we are that we would wear a scratchy sbai just to get a discount on something we probably don't even want?!

But that's not even what offends me the most – it's that lame ideas like this continuously get put out to the public, seemingly indicating that whoever is behind it didn't give it much (or any) thought. And frankly, it's getting really tiring to hear.

Let me first state for the record that I wish stuff like this didn't bother me. In fact, I wish this was information I never had to encounter, let alone even spend time thinking about, as it serves me no beneficial purpose whatsoever.

My IQ has not increased from knowing that wearing a Thai costume is comparable to dressing up for Halloween, nor have any children been spared from poverty with the TAT's formula that discounts are a way to promote Thainess.

And yet, here I am rambling on about it, and subjecting you to reading about it. Sorry.

My only wish is that plans like this went through some sort of hole-poking-test to see how many ways it can be discredited before it gets randomly and unofficially announced to everyone. Just someone to say, "Hey, do you think there's anything weird and insincere about offering people discounts for wearing traditional Thai clothing?"

I mean, what kind of message does this send to people who actually wear Thai attire not as a costume, but you know, as their actual clothing? If nothing else, it will also help the TAT retain their credibility and not detract from the actual good things they do for the country, like promoting Thai textiles abroad and helping us get lots of discounts on domestic tourism.

However, if these unnecessary gimmicks keep progressing at this rate, I fear Thainess will become even phonier than it already is. Next we can come up with a plan that offers people all the gold in Thailand if they learn how to say the basic words of "sawasdee", "khob khun" and "spicy maak maak".

Or I'll just have to keep thinking that Amazing Thailand Always Amazingly Annoys Me. G

Sumati Sivasiamphai

Former Guru Editor

Our Guru section former editor. She has writen numerous features the metro lifestyle section.

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