Yet, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Phuket office Chief Anoma Vongyai remains confident that the “alternative” vegetarian festivals will have no adverse effect on the cultural or commercial attraction of the Phuket home-grown celebration.
“No, this will not affect the Phuket Vegetarian Festival. Phuket has been holding this festival for 191 years,” Ms Anoma, who was born and raised in Phuket, said.
“Also, this will not affect the number of tourists coming to Phuket. The tourists who come to Phuket at this time of year are mostly tourists who have come especially to watch – or to join – the festival,” Ms Anoma told The Phuket News.
“I am not concerned about this aspect at all,” she added. “The original is the original. It is not a competition. It is about faith, and people who believe in this practice will join a festival near their homes or they will travel. We should focus on the beliefs of the festival in bringing peace to the soul and mind.”
Although Ms Anoma said she will keep promoting the festival as it is, she also called for a more “humble” version of the festival to return.
“I would like to see the Phuket Vegetarian Festival become more ‘humble’, as it once was years ago,” she said.
The true highlights of the festival are the ceremonies and honouring how people lived in Phuket all those years ago,” she added.
According to information from hotels and resorts, about 250,000 tourists come to Phuket during the Vegetarian Festival, Ms Anoma pointed out.
“Most of the tourist arrivals during this period are Chinese, Malaysia and Singaporean,” she added.