Next Year Songkran will Coincide with Chinese New Year (April Fools’ Day)

 | Thu 31 Mar 2016 17:05 ICT

CityNews – 1st April 2016, In what is considered one of the best marketing strategies to have come out of TAT since the Amazing Thailand campaign in the 1990s, Director of the Tourism of Authority of Thailand’s North, Pisoot Wuanchom, this week announced that this will be the last time that Songkran in Chiang Mai is held in April. As of 2017, Songkran will coincide with the Chinese New Year.

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“Songkran has always been held on the 13th, 14th and 15th of April,” Professor Prapeni Dungderm of Chiang Mai University’s Cultural Revival Department, told Citylife. “In Sanskrit, sankrati denotes a certain time in the calendar and that has always been the traditional Songkran time. But the fact is Sanskrit is a dead language and has been dead for millennia. Why are we focusing on this ancient, and dead, word? If we want to look at influences, then I think we need to look at China today. That is where our tourists, investors and clients are coming from, so why are we not paying more attention to their needs?”
“The fact is we have had a few years of drought,” said Director Pisoot. “This may happen in the future and we want to avoid that for Songkran. If we move Songkran up a couple of months, to late January or February to coincide with the Chinese New Year, then we are guaranteed water for the festivities and we get to be the priority for the use of water. I am sure that farmers will understand, after all, they like playing Songkran too.”
This two-birds with one stone approach, said Setthi Makmak, Director of the city’s Chamber of Commerce, “is ideal, we will appeal to potentially millions of Chinese tourists to come and join our festivities, bringing in much needed cash into our economy while assuring ourselves that the farang who are complaining about us wasting water during Songkran have nothing to complain about as the festival will be held before the drought hits. I estimate revenue to the city to increase by 2500% to five and a half billion baht for the week.”
The Thai Prime Minister is slated to be honouring director Pisoot with a medal of honour for this strategy.
There are some detractors to the plan, however. “Two years ago Singapore tried to copy our Songkran,” said Pisoot, “and failed. Now they are going to be losing out on all the Chinese tourists during the New Year too, and we have had many phone calls from the Singaporean government wishing to talk about this. I screen all my phone calls, so I don’t think that this will be a problem. We have also placed more security guards at the Thai Embassy in Singapore’s Orchard Road. All people who walk past will have their shopping bags checked. Unless they are Thai, of course. We need to show Singapore that they cannot intimidate us. If they want our tourists, they are going to have to come up with a more, well, people have called it brilliant, strategy.”