IN CELEBRATION OF HIS MAJESTY
Lights lure more tourists to riverside
Illumination of venues sparks rise in dinner cruises and tours of canals
Tourist attractions along the Chao Phya River in Bangkok have been lit up to attract more visitors.
The illumination of 28 venues started yesterday as part of celebrations for the 60th anniversary of His Majesty the King's accession to the throne, but the real aim is to increase the number of well-heeled tourists using the capital's main river.
"Cruising travellers number about 3.4 million a year, including foreigners who spend Bt4,000 a day in Thailand. If this lighting can increase the number of the tourists by 10 per cent, this would sharply raise the tourism income," said Thanitha Maneechot, director of the Office of Tourism Development (OTD).
"The lighting should increase business for restaurants, dinner cruises and tour boats along the river. We have learned that some dinner cruises have been fully booked for three weeks."
With thousands of lights, the river is now one of the most popular places for tourists to visit at night. Hotels, restaurants and public areas on both sides of the river are drawing more customers.
The lighting is a joint project between the OTD, Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) and the Metropolitan Electricity Authority (MEA).
The OTD and BMA are sharing the investment of Bt56.97 million, with Bt47.92 million being contributed by the OTD. This year, the OTD is expected to pay Bt500,000 in electricity bills, but in the following years the bills will be passed on to BMA.
Meanwhile, the MEA has agreed to waive electricity bills for lights at historical sites and to charge a special rate for lights at other venues.
Thanitha said the illuminated sites include old buildings, temples and historical sites such as Racha Thiwat Temple, Yanaya Temple, Bangkok Noi Train Station, Tha Rat Waradith Pier, Thammasat University, Rama VI Bridge and Phra Pinkhlao Bridge.
"Apart from the river itself, all these places are well known to both local people and tourists. And this year is a special time to visit," said Thanitha.
She said tourists would enjoy the lights every night from now until the end of this year.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) said that the project would lengthen tourists' average stay in Bangkok and surrounding provinces by one day and draw more tourists to visit connecting canals.
The TAT will ask the government to install lights at other places such as Bobae Pier and Dhevas Canal in Bangkok's old town.
According to a poll conducted by Ramkhamhaeng University, more than 90 per cent of respondents said they were delighted to see public and private agencies organise activities and events celebrating His Majesty's 60 years on the throne.