As ‘water fight’ aspect, to attract tourists, more than

 

 

 

 

As a traditional, regional festival, with
aspects that have contributed to the perception of the event nationally and
internationally, through holding the reputation as the “world’s biggest water
fight”, however an also dangerous environment, due to the heavy consumption drugs
and alcohol. Despite this, the TAT (Tourist Authority of the TAT), have
encouraged the water splashing aspects of the festival and tourist
participation, which has re-emphasized the cultural and traditional elements,
celebrated enthusiastically. The festival, from Wlodarczyk’s perspective, can
be considered to be within the ‘cultural heritage’ tourist space’ due to it
attracting visitors regional cultural heritage through tourist engagement. Its
strong focus, has however lead to the event, losing its authenticity, to some
extent, as modern tourist guides highlight the ‘water fight’ aspect, to attract
tourists,  more than its true symbolic
meaning.

 

Songkran itself is controversial, with
various government and authority figures being unhappy with Thailand’s
reputation as the “hub of the water party with booze and a high death toll”,
due to the heavy alcohol consumption, 364 deaths 3,559 injuries and
motorcyclists accidents, reported in 2015, with the majority involving people
between the ages of 20-49 years old. The Bangkok Metropolitan police, actively
took measures to ensure that whilst the celebrations were taking place, that
there was less drunken behavior, with the banning of alcohol, with the hope to
improve the reputation and controversy, surrounding the festival.

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Despite, its success and evolvement, from a
“low key family celebration’, to an internationally renowned event where its
appeal from a tourist perspective, is being able to take part in the “world’s
biggest water fight”, the expansion in size and intensity of the festival, has
led to management issues. This includes road safety, drink driving,
pickpocketing and drug dealing, as well as water related issues, in regards to
the throwing of polluted water, which could potentially cause bacterial
infections in the eyes, ears and throats of tourists, especially in Ching Mai,
where the water is taken from the city moat. There’s also an environmental
concern in relation to the use of water excessively in the celebrations, which
is discouraged within times of shortages and drought.

 

The turning point for the Songkran festival,
include the “Grand Lanna Civilisation Songrakn Festival” organized by TAT in
2004 in Chiang Mai, which according to Porananond and Robinson, encompassed
what a national, regional culture and heritage celebration is, attracting not
only foreign tourists, however also domestic. 
Figures released in 2015 from the ministry of tourism and sport, can
also be considered as a turning point for the festival, as it was announced
that 470,000 foreign tourists had attended that year, which was an increase of
39 per cent in comparison to the previous year. Income from tourism during the
five days, between the 9th-13th April, was at 7.5 billion
baht.

Three periods of development were identified,
firstly within the period of 1950-70, whereby there were more participatory and
organized events, involving new practice such as processions and beauty
pageants.  Songkran was also expanding
into more public places, building capacity and expectation for tourists.  Commercial in roads expanded rapidly through
to the 1990s, with an increased involvement of local government and the TAT, as
result of Thai infrastructure development, due to the growth of international
tourists.

With the early establishments of the TAT
(Tourist Authority in Thailand) in 1960, as well as campaigns such as ‘Visit
Thailand Year’, ‘Amazing Thailand’, ‘Unseen Thailand’ and ‘Discover Thailand’, it’s
clear that tourism plays a vital role in their economy, with marketing being a
priority for the TAT. The ‘backpacker’ was identified as a tourist, recognized
as a phenomenon attracted to Chiang Mai, where these particular tourists “began
to participate directly in the festivities rather than merely
observing”(Porananond and Robinson,2008;317)

 

 

Within the festival, there are 3 days of
tradition, with the first day called “Wan Sungkran Long”, which marks the
passing of the year, with Buddha statues being escorted down the streets in
parades and houses are swept in order to see the new year out, with fireworks
and crackers. “Wan Nao”, is the second day, being new year’s eve and the day
for building sand pagodas as well as preparing for the religious ceremonies for
the following day. The third day, is “Wan Paya Wan”, whereby there is a focus
on respecting elders and the monks, for the washing of the Buddhas and for the
water sprinkling.

Songkran Festival, is one of the most
popular festivals in the region with tourists. Traditionally, it’s a time for reunions,
house cleansing, and buddhist rituals, with water being at the centre of the
festival, which is celebrated as a blessing and given as a sign of respect.
Participants sprinkle water as cleansing and good wishes with ‘din son pong’,
which are white/colored powders, that are rubbed on the faces of celebrants
faces, as a representation of the sins of the past, which can be washed away by
relatives, friends as well as revelers. This Lunar New Year Festival, is also
celebrated by various bordering countries such as Cambodia, Laos and Yunnan
Province, China.

Case
Study- Tourism and the Songkran Festival in Thailand

 

“Man as a subject of tourist space”,
as festival tourist space, has a focus on creating an atmosphere and place
whereby there’s an exchange of ideas and views, as well as multi-culturalism
for multi ethnic groups, however as a result of people coming together, there
could be various implications such as conflicts between festival tourists and
locals within the areas where they are held, as well as the risk of alcohol,
drug abuse and crimes committed during events such as riots. The frequent negative
consequences, occur when there are conflicts between the inhabitants and
festival tourists, which result from “inconveniences” that are caused
by the organization of the events that clash with those within small local
communities. The inhabitants feel “invaded”, due to traffic jams, parking
problems, crowds near to the festival facilities and increased prices of services
and commodities, as there is a higher demand. (Mikkonen and Pasanen 2010)

“Man
as a subject of tourist space”

Infrastructure, consists of the building of
facilities for the purpose of satisfying the needs of festival tourists, such
as accommodation and catering, which can be perceived as negative, due to the
transport causing heavy tourist traffic, as well as the potential damage due to
vandalism. Infrastructure, has both positive and negative effects,  with its negative effect, being that a large amount
of tourist traffic, can cause damage to infrastructure, particularly if an
event has been held in a small destination, whether that being the faster wear
of roads, or railways line. The polish media had raised concerns of the problem
of trains and railway infrastructures being vandalized by groups of youths, who
travelled to a large polish music festival.

Infrastructure

Cultural heritage is about attracting
visitors to museums/galleries, which are heritage facilities, which enables the
potential development of local, however also regional cultural heritage through
tourist engagement. Despite the strong focus on cultural heritage, as attracting
tourists to visit sites, it could potentially lead to the authenticity of the
local and regional heritage, being lost due to the adjustments being made, in
order to cater to the tourists need. As well as this, there is also the danger
of the cultural heritage being perceived as false, due to it being tailored to
suit tourist’s expectations.

Cultural
Heritage

 Natural heritage, as a festival tourist space,
promotes ideas of being sustainable and living within a natural environment,
however despite this, there are are threats to the environment, which is caused
by pollution, as well as the potential “degradation of green areas in the
case of open air festivals.” Festivals that are devoted to environmental
issues, cause underlying issues with the pollution, which is  caused 
by visitors attending the area, with vehicle  exhaust emissions being higher due to tourists
travelling by car, in taxis etc., as well as more water and waste, being
produced, which in itself poses a great risk to the natural environment.

Natural
Heritage

Wlodarczyk(2009) has identified four
elements of tourist space within festivals, which includes elements created by
natural heritage, cultural heritage, infrastructure and man as a subject of
tourist space.

 (Cudney et al.2012), states that festival
tourism, should be considered as a separate type of tourism, as “what
attracts tourists in this case, is a particular tourist asset, namely the
festival, and should be understood as organized events, where people meet
irrespective of their work, with tourists travelling at attend the festivals to
be considered as “festival tourists”. The process of festival
development and its influence, is referred to as “festivalization.” With
its ability to generate a large amount of tourist traffic, they are capable of
having an influence on various elements of the surrounding space, which could
be identified as “tourist space”.

Festivals, have rapidly developed as a
phenomenon, playing an important role within the development of tourism. The basic
features of a festival, are that it’s varied, unconnected with work,
celebrating significant elements within a community, which are often related to
culture and religion or art and culture. Buczkowska (2009) holds the belief
that festivals play a significant role in tourism, being one of the most
important goals of tourist trips, attracting tourists, who are attracted to the
elements of culture during the events, as well as the idea of being a part of
an unusual atmosphere, meeting people of similar interests and establishing
more knowledge about the world.

Festival
Tourism

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A
crisis communications exercise was orchestrated, so that VisitBritain and the
tourism industry emergency response, were prepared.

 

 

 

Guidelines
for staff were constructed, to ensured that the communications referring to the
games, compiled woith the IOC guidelines, alongside the laws surrounding
olympic brand protecion, which was followed by regularly updated lines.

 

 

Activity
was co rodinated and communicated across a netowrk whereby good relations were
maintained with valuable stakeholders

There
was support and pariticpation of staff across various departments and offices,
in order to maxmise the potential of the games for british tourism.

 

Internal
communciations

 

 

international
travel tarde

 

 

In
order to take advantage of the tourism opporutnities, to there fullest, Visit
Britain worked in partnership, with destinations and tourism businesses
throughout the UK, in order to spread awareness of the economic benefits for
tourism, as well as the business opportuities, the games had to offer.

 

Engaging
the UK Industry

 

 

With
the 2012 london olympic games, according to.. offers an explanation into the
residents support towards the hostinf of the event, with whether they are
perceiving the event portrayal as fair/unfair inflences their supportive
behaviour.


Media coverage

 


Hosting Olympic Games Events, can potentially provide economic,social and
environmental benefits to to the host country and their residents.

 

 

The
hosting of 14 GREAT Britain media events- featuring guests such as premier
league footballers, as well as the particpation of 500 overseas media in tours
to england,scotland,wales and northern ireland.

 

Media-
lead up to and during the games, visitbritain worked with thousands of olympic
broadcast rights holders and non accredited media, from over 100 countries.
This was to ensure that their coverage went beyond london and the rest of
Britain.

 

 

Great
Britian- Strong Branding- through tactical promotions, whereby the british
public were asked to invite their friends and relatives to london in 2012, with
a creative titled ‘Sharing is GREAT Britain’, which was used in a press
promotion with the daily mirror, an expedia overseas campaigns and in digital
promotions on the Love UK facbeook page and website,visitbritian.

 

With
coverage of all the major milestone dates and activities, games-related, through
twitter feeds and the “Love UK” page on facebook launched intially in
2007, by 2012 the page had successfully become the seventh largest UK brand on
the site, as well as the fifth fastest growing facebook page in the world.

 

Social
media activity- also vital to the success of the event.

 

 

ensuring
that britains strong tourism products can be easily packaged and sold in
britain in relevant markets

Strategy-
about enhancing britains image- such as its strenght,heritage,taditional and
contemporary culture.

 

ambition
to welcome 40 million visitors by 2020, following a consultation on growth
stretegy for inound tourism

 

‘Britain
Tourism Strategy’

 

 

14
cities in nine countries, in January 2012, were targeted in a £25 million
tourism awareness campaign, in Paris,Berlin,New Yorl,Los Angeles,Toronto,Rio De
Janero etc, with an emphasis on “GREAT Britain themes”, which were
considered to be heritage,culture and countryside, utlising digital
media,print,cinema and outdoor media, in order to maximise its effectiveness.

 

To
enable a global reach for the advertisement, they were played on BBC World, BBC
America and bbc.com, as well a social media platforms such as YouTube.

 

A
global television ad was launched, as part of the marketing campaign, featuring
celebrity british icons such as Dame Judi Dench and Jamie Oliver, offering a
personalised invitation to encourage people tp attend.

 

The
Games enabled the creation of an “ambitious marketing programme (Visit
Britain), through aspiring tourists to reavel to Britain and increasing the
number of people visiting the UK.

 

 

Evident
change in the perceptions and improvements, with britains image in many
markets, as well as media coverage that is positive.

Coverage-

The
London Olympic Games and Paralympics

 

Prime
Games-

 

The
two groups, can therefore be divided into two categories, which are the ‘Prime’
games visits and the ‘secondary’ games visits.

 

Between
July- September 2012, 8.9 million visits from overseas visitors, spending £6.4
billion in the UK, with 470,000 visits being for the purpose of taking part,
watching or working at the games, whilst 841,000 visits, which is an
increasingly larger quantity, were attending a games event.

 

 

The
London 2012 olympic games enabled an opportunity maximise the ecominic benefits
of tourism across the UK. VisitBritain adopted a strategy that was to not onle
effectively market the Olympic Games and Paralympic games, however to
additionally take advantage of the worldwide media attention, to promote
britain to new and exisitng audience globally.

 

The
London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics- prime example of event tourism.

 

 

 

 

The
Olympic Games, are signified as a global, commercial opportunity, as well as a “global
spectacle’, as its linked to tourism, extending beyond sports tourism and into
the wider context of social encounter

As
one of the most fast growing segments, of not only individual however also
collective sports, due to its potential to attract visitors and gain media
attention, as well as economic impac

 

 

 

Sporting events , can be considered as
short term, however with long lasting consequences, attracting large numbers of
international tourists and in order to be set up, they requires strong public
commitment, as well as public and private financial contributions, due to the
fact that they are an extremely high cost to the host country and the city. These
include events such as the Olympic Games, World Cup and the Tennis Open that
are large in size and a special in nature, with an effect on the entire economy
of the city or region, or single country. They hold a strong economic impact in
the host community, due to its ability to attract large numbers of visitors, as
well as benefitting from global media coverage.

Sporting
Events

 

 

 

Motivations will depend on the event, with
a business event travelers motivations to attend international conferences,
being examined by Oppermann and Chon (1997). From the perspective of
association and attendees decision making, the factors for attendance could
potentially be for personal and business factors, and intervening opportunities.
The nature of in particular, the sport tourism experience and motivation has
received a large amount of attention, with active and passive sports tourists
being identified by Gibson (1998,2006), whilst Fairley and Gammon (2006),  examined nostalgia as a motivator, which
links to notion of community of interests or sub-cultures.

Motivational research into the events
sector, is well established , with escapism, being identified as a key
motivator, that leads people to events for the ‘generic benefits’ which include
entertainment, socializing, learning and novelty seeking, to get away from
normal day to day life.

According to Getz(2008) events can be
categorized, with the eight types being cultural,political,arts and
entertainment,business,science and education, sporting events, recreational
activities and private occasions.

Events can be defined as “special
happenings that are held infrequently and have a fixed term, providing
participants with opportunities for social interaction beyond everyday life”.
(Jago and Shaw 1998), as well as being an important motivator of tourism within
the development and marketing plans of most destinations. “Event
Tourism”, as a term, however has only been established a few decades ago,
in the tourism industry and in the research community, similarly to event
management’, which is a professional field that is fast growing. They also
provide recognition for the organizers when there has been a considerable
impact on urban development, such as new trends in planning and in long term,
strategies to boost tourism through public and private investments and renewed
infrastructures.

Event
Tourism