The announcement came at a press conference staged by Phuket officials at Jui Tui shrine, in the heart of Phuket Town, yesterday (Sept 20), led by Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew and joined by TAT Phuket Chief Nanthasiri Ronnasiri and Rewat Areerob, president of the Phuket Provincial Administration Organisation (PPAO).
Ms Nanthasiri said that an estimated 100,000 Thais and about 80,000 foreigners were expected to join the festival over the nine days, from Sept 26-Oct 4.
(Ms Nanthasiri later confirmed that the festival was estimated to help generate B3.4 billion for the island economy.)
In total 900 domestic flights and over 500 international flights will arrive during that time, she said.
More than 19,000 ATK test kits have been supplied to all shrines taking part in the festival to ensure they comply with COVID-prevention measures, which are still required this year, Mr Rewat said.
The PPAO had also campaigned for people looking to join or take in the festival to receive their third, fourth or even fifth vaccination jabs, he added.
Phuket Governor Narong welcomed the move for the TCEB to provide its support for the festival.
“Phuket is an important global destination and the MICE industry is one of the province’s pillar strategies in driving the economy. By organizing meetings and tourism Each year we have the opportunity to welcome many travelers,” he said.
“The festival is a diverse event in all dimensions, in terms of beliefs and old traditions and practices of the ancient Chinese community. The festival encourages interest from those looking to discover more about it and learning about people from all over the world,” he added.
Governor Narong highlighted that Phuket has been recognised by UNESCO as a Creative Cities of Gastronomy since 2015, becoming the first such city in the Asean region to do so.
“Many of the dishes available here during the festival are local specialties created especially for this traditional event,” he said.
Pattanachai Singhavara, Director of the TCEB Southern Regional Office, explained that the TCEB’s aim was to target “a new generation of travellers that have changed travel behaviour and lifestyle”.
“The TCEB aims to enhance the potential of Phuket as a MICE City by elevating the outstanding events to become a ‘Flagship Event’, an international event, in line with the drive to develop the ‘Festival Economy’,” he said.
“This is to create economic value, distribute income and spread prosperity, along with developing the quality of life in the city, which requires cooperation from the community,” he added.
“Therefore, the TCEB is looking for ways to communicate and conduct public relations through content development based on branded customer experience principles to create an experience for the target audience.
“When they experience traditional events that are contemporary and different, it makes the decision to come much easier,” Mr Pattanachai said.
Among the ‘target audience’ the focus is on Faith Wanderers, City Hoppers, Food Lovers and Health Addicts, he said.
During the festival, the TCEB will support an event called the “Gastronomy Chef’s Table” in order to “disseminate the identity and distinctiveness of the Phuket Vegetarian Festival in an interesting new perspective through healthy food”, he added.
Thaneth Tantipiriyakij, President of the Phuket Tourist Association, explained that the “Gastronomy Chef’s Table” is to specifically promote restaurant operators in the MICE industry, and provide them with an opportunity to improve on the quality of services they offer.
“It will give MICE travelers the opportunity to experience new traditions and dishes created by famous chefs in Phuket,” he added.
“In this first year will create awareness and the following years will provide opportunities for those who are interested to participate in such activities,” he said.
The event will be held at Kathu Municipality offices this Sunday (Sept 25) and at the Dragon Statue area in Queen Sirikit Park in Phuket Town next Tuesday (Sept 27), he added.
PPAO President Mr Rewat added that the PPAO will host a ceremony to offer blessings to His Majesty King Vajiralongkorn at the Saphan Hin Center Stage next Tuesday (Sept 27).
The blessing ceremony is traditionally followed by a special street procession held throughout Phuket Town.
Of note, traffic will be affected while the street processions are held by devotees from shrines participating in the festival. Motorists are urged to avoid the areas while street processions are taking place, or expect delays.