Deputy Prime Minister Somsak Thepsuthin said he expected the Loy Krathong festival in the northern province of Sukhothai from Nov 18-27 to draw as many as 750,000 tourists and generate up to 800 million baht in revenue.
Mr Somsak, who presided over the opening of the festival on Saturday, said 47,064 tourists were recorded on the first day, so the number could reach 750,000 in total throughout the 10 days of festivities.
"Loy Krathong is one of the winter festivals being promoted by the government to spur tourism and the economy. Loy Krathong in Sukhothai features a variety of outstanding Thai traditions and culture. From what I saw on the first day, the festival has attracted a lot of foreign tourists," said Mr Somsak, who is a native of Sukhothai.
Mr Somsak said he had instructed government agencies concerned to attach high importance to the safety of tourists. Convenience and amenties are also important in order to impress tourists and bring them back to the province, he added.
Nov 27, Loy Krathong Day, will be highlighted by the presence of Prime Minister Sretha Thavisin, he said.
Loy Krathong originates from an ancient Hindu festival that paid respects to water spirits. In Thailand, the festival was adapted to also show respect to the Buddha. The word 'krathong' refers to a small vessel or basket and 'loy' means to float.