AN American woman, Shelby Paster, very luckily won a several prizes today after becoming Thailand’s 32 millionth visitor for this year, Thai News Agency said.
On hand to congratulate and receive her here was Jittima Sukpalin, Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Executive Director of the Americas Region. Ms Paster had flown in from San Francisco and received a free air ticket, accommodation in a five-star hotel, AOT limousine service as well as a mobile phone with a free sim card and free internet use for seven days.
In 2016, Thailand is projecting total international tourism revenue of 1.62 trillion baht (US$46 billion), representing a year-on-year increase of 11.68%.
To boost tourism numbers, various initiatives have been put in place to encourage tourists to visit and spend. Among them are a waiver of tourist visa fees for visitors from 19 countries from December 1, 2016, to February 28, 2017 and halving the price of visas issued on arrival.
Meanwhile a special New Year celebration which also rejoices the nation’s Thainess and incorporates tributes to the Thai monarchy takes place in form of a traditional candle lighting and prayer ceremony called Sang Thien Haeng Siam or Candlelight of Siam at Bangkok’s Sanam Luang park and various other locations both within the country and overseas on December 31.
The event will start at 7 p.m. with locals and foreign visitors invited to join the pre-New Year Countdown activities including writing an oath to live a good life, getting a candle for the lighting ceremony and taking part in Buddhist rituals.
Then, at 9 p.m. everyone will be invited to join an 89-second silence to pay respect to the late His Majesty King Rama IX marking his 89 years. From 11.45 p.m. to 11. 55 p.m.. New Year’s Eve prayers in the form of simplified Buddhist chanting will take place.
TAT also said the that on New Year’s Day, January 1, 2017, the Bureau of the Royal Household will give people a chance to sign their names in commemorative books as a way of blessing the reign of the new monarch His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun, or King Rama X.
The signing will take place in Bangkok’s Grand Palace in the Sala Sahathai Samakhom from 07:30 a.m. till 7 p.m.
Top: Koh Phi Phi in Krabi province is just an hour’s boat ride from Phuket. Photo: Tourism Authority of Thailand