Thailand will transform Songkran into a month-long global water festival next year to boost its "soft power" and attract international tourists.
Paetongtarn Shinawatra, Pheu Thai Party leader and the National Soft Power Strategy Committee (NSPSC) president, on Friday announced that the committee agreed to push Songkran to become one of the world's best festivals.
Paetongtarn: Eyeing soft power gains
"Let's make the Songkran festival the event that everyone has to fly to Thailand to attend. Let's make Thailand [home of] one of the top 10 global festivals," Ms Paetongtarn said.
"Starting from next year, the Songkran festival will not be the same. We will not splash water only for three days but the whole month with events to be held nationwide," she said.
The committee expects the extended festival to generate 35 billion baht for the Thai economy, she wrote on her Facebook page.
On Thursday, the NSPSC drafted a budget of 5.1 billion baht, which will be allocated to mobilise the main industries the committee is focusing on, including festival events (1 billion baht), culinary affairs (1 billion baht), tourism (711 million baht), entertainment (545 million baht), sports (500 million baht), Thai arts (380 million baht), creative design (310 million baht), music (144 million baht) and books (69 million baht).
Dr Surapong Suebwonglee, NSPSC vice president, said that to push Thailand's soft power, the government must also pass the Soft Power Act and set up the Thailand Creative Content Agency (Thacca). Thacca will have 12 sub-committees focusing on different soft power industries. Each sub-committee will have representatives from their respective sectors.
Dr Surapong said the NSPSC will review the requested budget around Dec 14 before submitting its final report to the cabinet in January.
Chadatip Chutrakul, chief executive of Siam Piwat Co, the operator of Siam Paragon, Siam Center and Siam Discovery malls, said that the sub-committee on festival events plans to organise more than 10,000 nationwide events throughout 2024, with the highlight being the extended Songkran in April.
As president of the sub-committee of festival events, Ms Chadatip said the water festival will be held on Rachadamnoen Avenue and other locations in Old Town Bangkok with performances from global and local artists.
Apart from Bangkok, each province will hold water festival events throughout April, promoting their unique provincial traditions.
Ms Chadatip said the events would offer employment for locals at the village level and allow organisers to train locals in event planning.
Ms Chadatip added that the sub-committee will also create a mobile app which promotes Thailand's soft power to foreigners.