Culture for profit? Concerns over releasing of flying lanterns

 | Fri 25 Oct 2019 14:19 ICT

CityNews – 25th October 2019, as authorities tighten and enforce rules and regulations over the lighting of lanterns and fireworks across the nation, there have been concerns over mass and unregulated releasing of flying lanterns during festive seasons in Thailand, especially here in Chiang Mai.  In fact, even in non-festive periods, there have been some mass release of flying lanterns such as the specially arranged event by Tourism Council of Thailand (Chiang Mai Branch) for tourists in August of this year which was aimed to hit the world record, with director of the council (Chiang Mai branch) saying that this event was permitted by relevant authorities.

The event drew widespread criticism from people concerning safety, not only concerning aviation, but also the safety of people and properties on the ground as can be seen on the FB web page “Drama Addict” under the topic InThai: รอดูสิ่งที่จะตามมาหลังอีเวนท์ครับ (translation: please wait to see the consequence after the event) which has many comments. In late August of this year, Chiang Mai Governor called for a meeting with all relevant offices to consider regulations for the upcoming Loy Krathong festival (which will be in effect until after the New Year festivals.)  as a result of the meeting, two events: one at the dinosaur-featuring Hidden Village Chiang Mai attraction and the other at the Royal Park Rajapruek in Tambon Mae Hia, were deemed to be within the air navigation safety zone, so they have been canceled following the revocation of their permits.

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Later in October, Deputy Governor of Chiang Mai and Chiang Mai airport authority announced the approach and regulations concerning lantern releasing. However, it is expected that the provincial and relevant authorities have yet to set concise regulations for all of the areas of Chiang Mai in this matter, leading to confusion and misinformation.

In the meanwhile, some private companies are marketing Loy Krathong lantern release experiences, charging as much as 2,400 baht per head, with the promise of shuttling tourists to rural communities outside the no-release zones. This too has caused an uproar as people complain that their properties are at risk from an activity which they will not benefit from and ask who will take responsibility for any damages or cleanup?

A local website has also asked whether it was appropriate for a handful of people to profit from the culture of the people it exploits.