Life Will Go On, Tourism Continues
“Life will go on,” said Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Minister of Tourism and Sports for Thailand, in an exclusive interview with The iTravel Channel TV.
Everything in Thailand is more or less open and it’s business as usual aside from somberness. The Kingdom of Thailand is in an official period of mourning in remembrance of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Commenting on the mourning period, Mrs. Kobkarn said, “This is a period where we try to understand each other, but at the same time try to find the way to do something from his teaching in order to be the greatest merit to send him off to heaven.”
What to Expect the First 30 Days
The most somber period for the people of Thailand will be the first 30 days. Everyone is wearing black or other somber dress.
The minister feels the first 30 days are most important for the people of Thailand. Expats, foreigners, and tourists are not required to dress a certain way or participate in the mourning per Mrs. Kobkarn. However, she continues, “Actually, you are welcome to join us if you want. If you don’t want to, actually that is fine.”
The iTravel Channel TV personally met many tourists who did choose to participate. Watch accounts of the tourists witness history as it unfolds. A few tourists compare the on-going event of the King’s death to other great historical moments, all of which unified large populations.
While you need not dress a certain way, please make an effort to wear black or other respectful attire. You may also choose to wear a black ribbon.
What to Expect Between 30 Days and 1 Year
The mood will change during this period. It’s only the government, civil servants, or employees of state enterprise which must continue to wear mourning attire. As the Minister notes, it’s likely other Thai’s will continue to wear mourning attire.
While tourists may wear normal clothing, Mrs. Kobkarn adds, “But we only ask, is that if you are in public, please wear something respectful, respectful to the situation, and the color also, if you can, something respectful color to us. But if you don’t have, you also have the black ribbon to put on your clothing. You can find the black ribbon everywhere, starting from immigration counter.”
Tourism activities will continue as usual across the Kingdom. We spoke to tourists outside of Bangkok in resort cities. Each tourist confirmed all is normal aside from a few venues initially closed with restrictions of alcohol sales the first couple days. Restrictions are now lifted.
If you will visit soon, pack some respectful clothing, obtain a black ribbon at immigration, and plan for a normal vacation or holiday in Thailand. Just respect the Thai people in any mourning activities you may encounter, but otherwise enjoy the Kingdom and Thai hospitality.
Cultural Events, Religious Ceremonies, and Sports
Once the initial 30 day period ends, nearly all events will go forward with minor adjustments for the people’s mood and remembrance of the King.
The upcoming Loy Krathong Festival is on-schedule, but will be toned down. Specifically no beauty contests and no fireworks will take place.
“There will be Christmas, there will be Chinese New Year, you can wear red on Chinese New Year with the black ribbon, there will be New Year Countdown, there will be Songkran Festival,” proclaimed Mrs. Kobkarn.
Sporting events all have the green-light as well, including the Chiang Mai Marathon, Phuket Triathlon, and the Phuket Regatta with the Kings Cup. As Mrs. Kobkarn oversees sports, she explained one meaningful event, especially for the Thai people, is the Princess Cup, which is horse racing.
Addressing Concerns and Anxieties of Thailand Travelers
We understand some travelers have concerns. Some travel statements posted may seem a bit stiff, but the best thing you can do is reach out to friends in Thailand. No friends in Thailand? Just hop onto social media, Twitter is a good platform, and we bet you’ll find the information you’re looking for, while perhaps making a new friend or two online. Expat’s as well as locals know it’s business as usual and will provide reassurance.
Conclusion: Thai Tourism is Business As Usual
There’s a lot of articles on-line spreading gossip, but at the end of the day, the only real change was a significant loss for Thai people. A loss many cannot express in words. The King will never be forgotten, but life moves on. Tourism moves on with everything else and while some may need re-assurance, the Thai warmness and hospitality has not changed, the beaches remain beautiful, and the food is delicious, it hasn’t changed.
Generally speaking, cultural, traditional and MICE events will continue as planned, if anything, there may be minor alterations for appropriateness.
Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Minister of Tourism and Sports, wraps up, “I have three keywords:”
- “Come and Salute His Majesty the King of Thailand, great memory with the Thai;”
- “Come and Salute His Majesty, The King’s Teachings, that’s the ultimate thing, why we love him so much;”
- “Come and Discover Thainess.”
“The usual Thailand, things are what it should be, but in a special way because this is one of the way of the Thai who are very connected to the King,” she said in closing.
Mrs. Kobkarn passionately concludes, speaking with conviction, this is something we’ve never experienced and invites you to come and experience it with us.