The festival will be observed from Jan 28 through to Feb 20, Phuket Town Mayor Saroj Angkanapilas explained at the launch, which began at 7:30pm and featured large illuminated models of imaginary animals, a traditional lion dance and fireworks.
The festival is being held “to preserve and preserve the good culture of the Chinese Phuket people,” said Mayor Saroj.
“It creates an atmosphere and a good image in tourism. It stimulates the economy to generate income for the local area,” he said.
The festival is popular for ethnic Chinese residents in Phuket Town to adorn their homes with red lanterns “for auspiciousness as a celebration during the festive season and being a family reunion there will be a blessing to give happiness to celebrate within the family”, Mr Saroj noted.
The festival was revived in 2016 by Phuket provincial officials working with the local Chinese Community, he explained.
In the run-up to Chinese New Year, which begins on Tuesday (Feb 1), ushering in the Year of the Tiger, Phuket City Municipality launched its “Sweep the house to welcome Chinese New Year” from Jan 20-28, Mr Saroj added.
Ahead of the Chinese New Year, it is customary for ethnic Chinese to prepare for the new year festivities with a cleanout of their homes, leaving many large discarded items needing removal and disposal. To facilitate this custom, Phuket City Municipality each year operates special services to collect large items from homes and from the footpaths, where many large items such as discarded furniture are left.
Meanwhile, Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew has called on people to observe COVID-prevention measures throughout the festivities being held for Chinese New Year.
“Because it is a festival where relatives and brothers from many places gather together to pay respect to their ancestors. They meet at homes and at family gatherings,” he said.
“People are urged to observe the COVID-prevention measures during trips to the market or supermarket to buy things, when socializing at a restaurant or praying at a shrine, which [during the festival] become quite crowded,” he said.
Governor Narong pointed out the plethora of government efforts underway to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“The public health campaign is focusing on four main measures (VUCA), namely Vaccine, Universal Prevention, COVID Free Setting and ATK [testing by antigen test kits],” he said.
“We are ready. We have a treatment system for those infected with COVID, which may increase among both Thai people and tourists.
For Thai people we have prepared hospitals, field hospitals, CI [community isolation] and home isolation measures. For foreign nationals we have prepared hospitals, hotel isolation, hotel room isolation, alternative quarantine and ‘Traveler Community Isolation’,” he said.
“In addition, there is a system of quarantine for high-risk exposure groups at home or home quarantine and reducing local quarantine with surveillance and focusing on proactive testing with ATK
“And we have the campaign for third- and fourth-dose vaccinations for the people and increased the vaccination service points to include Tambon Administrative organisations [OrBorTor and local municipalities] to increase the channels and convenience of vaccination for the people.
“And in addition we have preventive measures to control COVID-19 in the Chinese New Year festival,” Governor Narong said.
“And Phuket Province [the provincial government] has prepared vaccinations for students aged 5-11 years and students 12-17 years old during this period,” he added.