It was an emotional time for many Thai officials present at the Thailand Fanclub French Chapter Night during Thailand famous Loy Krathong festival. The event was taking place at the headquarters of the Royal Navy, across the royal palace on Rattanakosin Island, the heart of historical Bangkok.
Suddenly, a giant full moon rose over the Grand Palace and hang over the glittering golden spires of Bangkok’s most famous monument, for now the home of Late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. For an hour, the bright moon shined lighting the palace and the Chao Praya River.
“His spirit is upon us and this is a sign of welcome from the place he is now”, whispered Tanes Petsuwan, TAT Deputy Governor for International Marketing in charge of Europe, Africa, Middle East and Americas. A thought which was certainly share by many of the Thai people present in the room that night, who slowly emerge of the deep grief they have been plunged into following the passing of their revered king.
“The legacy of his majesty will be there for long. And we must follow his steps in tourism, especially by spreading the social and economuc benefits of tourism to the small communities, the ones far away from the big tourism centres. These are the places that tourists should visit to understand the vision of our King to spread wealth among all the Thais”, said Minister of Tourism, Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul during the event.
Tourism circuits will be created along the Royal Projects initiated by the late King. The launching of “70 Routes in His Majesty’s Footsteps”. The 70 Routes are promoting smaller communities and achievements in all fields of life thanks to the late King’s support. They are first to be launched domestically before being promoted to international markets. “We will print and have the brochure in English by early next year. Although not all the destinations we promote are fit to receive international travellers due to a more complicated access or due to the lack of English signage, at least half of them could be easily visited by foreign travellers”, estimates Yuthasak Supasorn, Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
TAT is also launching the jazz festival renamed “Jazz for the King”. Until the end of January, all the national museums are free of charge to anyone as a show of Thai cultural unity, which was fostered by King Bhumibol during his 70-year long reign. “We could also talk to the Royal Household Bureau to seek for the permission to maybe open some of the royal residences to visitors. This is an idea to explore”, added Mr. Supasorn.
Next week, the Thai government plans also to organise activities called Ruam Palang Haeng Khwam Pakdi (Unite to show allegiance to the King) to honour the late King across the country next Tuesday. It will follow a month of national mourning where Thai people are encouraged to have activities such as cleaning public places, visiting patients in hospitals and reading books to children with disabilities.
In another development, the government will also ask the endorsement of the Royal Household Bureau to rename officially the late King ‘the Great’. The official title would then be conferred only after the conclusion of royal funeral rites. The government also indicated that the Royal Household Bureau will decide to retain or change the calendar of special events following the crowing of the new King. Important dates are the late King’s birthday on December 5 as well as his Coronation Day on May 5, which have previously been celebrated every year.