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The Importance of Festivals and Events on Tourism

Discuss about the Introduction and History of the Event.

Festivals are the ways of enjoying a country’s culture. The feature of celebrating festivals or enjoying events is solely to cherish the life fully in a varied way. Events are organized for the people to precisely understand different human cultures. It is a way of celebrating what people possess and celebrating it. Festivals held in a country attract tourists, which largely influences the nations in all possible ways (Cudny, 2013). Additionally, events are defined as something that is essential and forms a vital component of human life. It involves a set of situations that are temporarily organized with noteworthy incidences at a definite time and place. Planned events turn a location into an exciting environment, which readily contributes to the consumption and exploration of the culture (Valentino, 2015).

Thailand celebrates its new year with an ultimate water battle, which commences on the month of April on a yearly basis. This annual festival is known as Songkran. In this particular festival, entire country is found to be enjoying their work-offs, family time, visiting temples, and partying (Carruthers, 2018). The water battle celebrated during this time is also known as Thai Water Festival. This custom of celebrating it is considered to be a way of finding its origin from spring-cleaning feature of Buddha. Part of the ceremony belongs to cleaning the images of Buddha with peace and dedication. The words ‘Songkran’ has been derived from Sanskrit, which depicts the sun’s movement from one zodiac sign to the other. The importance of Songkran is when the sun enters the zodiac sign of Aries. The date of celebrating Songkran was decided by astrological calculations but it has been changed. At present, it starts from April 13 of each year (Office Holidays, 2018).

The festival is all about cleaning the houses, purification of mind, and body along with living life in a new way. During this festival, Buddha’s statues are taken to be washed with flower-scented water. This festival is a way of celebrating a day while paying respect to Buddha and the elderly. Sprinkling water on people symbolizes the wishes of getting rid from negative thoughts as well as actions. Chiang Mai is the place, where the wildest celebration takes place every year and other places, which hosts this festival includes- Bangkok and Phuket among other tourist destinations (Rodgers, 2018). The festival starts from the early morning with the Buddhists individuals visiting temples for receiving devotional favor from the monks and listen to the spiritual words of Dhamma. In the afternoon, people of Thailand offer their prayers to Buddha by sprinkling water on his statue. People residing in Thailand believe that respect for elders and peace within oneself is necessary for leading a life without committing any sins. Establishing goodness within oneself by driving away the bad omen is the primary purpose of organizing this festival (Tourism Authority of Thailand, 2014).

Overview of Songkarn Festival in Thailand

Festivals are often considered to a priod in calendar year, which allows people to of enjoy time without any worry and involving in cultural celebrations leaving all work aside. The people of Thailand celebrate Songkran festival whole-heartedly. This festival has a significant impact on the country, as holding such wide- known celebrations encourage the economy and tourist- related factors. Tsai & Sakulsinlapakorn (2016) stated that a campaign of Cultural Ministry of Thailand recommends the citizens to purchase scented water, garlands, fabric clothes, and handicrafts. This is mainly to increase the profit level margin largely. Similarly, Getz (2008) has provided importance for conducting events as the sole reason of encouraging tourism in the country. In addition, the planned events increase the significance of destination competitiveness. Wongsawat (2015) further stated that this festival adds enriching value in an individual’s life. The values, which are considered to be essential for an individual to lead a peaceful life includes values for family, community, society, and religion. Values of Songkarn festival is decorated when the Thai culture is presented. The features of Thai culture exhibits the intensification of family bonds, pleasure in giving away, culturally satisfied, unity in domestic matters, improvement of folk music along with dance and displaying the beauty of Thai language (Wongsawat, 2015).

Importance of festivals and events are well explained by Popescu & Corbo? (2012) indicating that the events represent the country to the tourists. In this context, event management increases tourism within the country. The tourist industry is mainly influenced by the long-held events in a country or by the events, which are organized with global fame attached to it. An event not only attracts the tourists but it also draws the attention of the industries and companies to make investments (Popescu & Corbo? 2012). Author, Mair & Whitford (2013) discusses the topics that are related to themes, topics, and modern-day trends. The variations in themes that are related to the event also are also perceived as one of the major influential factors for managing the growth of tourism industry. Investors have the tendency to sponsor the events for its own betterment. Countries can be highly influenced by the growth of events in Thailand. Events are organized to exhibit the cultural phase of a country in many ways. Additionally, the events are necessary to understand the actual growth of the specific country. Thus, Thailand possesses own culture along with society to flaunt in its best way by organizing an event.

Significance of Songkarn Festival


Lesi?, Brš?i? & Ruži? (2017) has described the impact of event experience more on its participants as compared to the attendees. The participants depend on the proper execution of the event. Contextually, events are primarily held to provide an entertaining break from the usual work. The participants are the stakeholders, who look forward for more business from the events. Hernández-Mogollón, Folgado-Fernández & Duarte, (2014) has explained the impact of events in the tourism industry. This industry has been largely affected due to increasing globalization and countries have started competing with each other for optimal positioning. Events play significant role in contributing their part for boosting the competitiveness of destinations. The content or the themes of the events are derived from the destination’s resources. Furthermore, it can also be sorted depending on its major five factors such as location, content, dimension, significance, and span. An event contributes to the development of scientific oriented knowledge of that particular destination. The purpose of hosting events and festivals helps in fostering tourism portion of the particular location. Events are hosted with some objective, be it social, economical, or political development (Hernández-Mogollón, Folgado-Fernández & Duarte, 2014).

Zarantonello & Schmitt (2013) have discussed the importance of event marketing on an impartial display of brand. The companies during the events are primarily focusing on promoting their business to all the people, who are present in that particular event. Brand attitude along with behavior towards an event is important, as big planned events can never take place without the support of a brand or an established company in the form of sponsorship.

Event planning includes some steps, which are required to follow, which is illustrated in the Figure 1 below:

The planning of events requires the above-illustrated steps to be performed. Idea has to be generated with respect to the theme of the event. Planning should be executed, as it is necessary for determining the future course of work. Only after then, work has to be allocated equally among the associated members so that everything works in accordance to the plan. While hosting the event, it becomes essential for preparing a certain budget on the location for organizing the event. Budgets are important, as it influences all the factors that are to be implemented in the future steps of event planning. Booking of the venue and attaining permission are some of the most important aspects for successfully hosting an event. Hosting of events is impossible without proper sponsorship, it involves large amount of capital for organizing it. Sponsors financially influence the events at large. Marketing of the event is required so that it can draw the attention of the tourists. Selection of perfect leaders and volunteers are important for organizing an event, as they have to properly execute the given orders. Finally, implementing all the steps relate to the planning events can help in the development of the country (Downtown Rochester, 2016)

The Impact of Songkarn Festival on Thailand's Culture

Songkarn festival directly influences the social, economic, and cultural aspect of the country. It has largely contributed to the country’s development. Financially, companies, investors, and stakeholders all look forward to this particular event, as it attracts large number of tourists. Additionally, it also enables the growth of tourism industry. Socially, this event further assists the communities to enjoy it fully without any restrictions. Songkarn has a significant impact on the country’s culture, as it flaunts its overall resources to the world (Lauzon, N.D.)

Negative impacts of involve casualties, which are often caused by heavy consumption of alcohol during the event. The days of events are declared as holidays by the government of Thailand and so people indulge themselves in merriment, which results in meeting fatal results such as accidents. It has become a matter of concern for the country’s police, as the death reports are increasing each year. Steps are taken to avoid this type of situations but still it could not be prevented completely (Online Reporters, 2018).

Outcomes of the positive as well as negative effect of the awaited festival have resulted into cautiousness among the country’s authorities and police so that the event can be enjoyed completely without any hurdle.

The people in Thailand experience peaceful days during this event. These days are meant to depict immense respect towards Buddha and the elders. Globalization has brought many changes, however, the elderly Thai old women try their best to hold onto their traditional ancient cultures intact. This day starts with elderly women preparing food themselves that are to be offered to the monks. The experience of Songkran differs among the different-age groups. However, the elderly people still have maintained their culture (Wright-St Clair, Bunrayong, Vittayakorn, Rattakorn & Hocking, 2004). Songkarn has is observed to have a great significance among the people of Thailand. It symbolizes the advent with all new thoughts and actions (Asia Web Direct, 2018)

The stakeholders are the one that have immense interest in a specific business or an event. Their aim is to gain profits from the place, where they invest their money. Stakeholders are directly affected with any company or event achieving their goals (Pinheiro, 2015). Stakeholders are mainly of three types, which include internal, external, and interface stakeholders. Contextually, internal stakeholders have their section within their own organization, which in case of Songkarn involves the organizers. On the other hand, external stakeholders include those who operate outside the organization. Finally, interface stakeholders are the ones, who work simultaneously internally and externally. Competitiveness in organizing events has increased for drawing the attention of the stakeholders that involves- policy-makers, customers, and investors. The stakeholders directly influence events, as they are temporary however, it needs large capital for successfully organizing and hosting it. The investors are going to be benefitted with the events, as the profits earned by the event have to be directly divided among them as per the norms (Greg & Wilson, 2004).

Negative Impacts of Songkarn Festival

Sustainability principles are the processes, which determine the equal balance between the country’s population and the environment, which in this case is Thailand. Events have to monitor that there is no violation of the principles of sustainability while they are hosting the festivals. In this context, Songkarn festival also needs to follow sustainability principle, which involves social aspects by preserving the norms and finding opportunities by enhancing the society as a whole. Proper sustaining has to provide importance to the environmental aspect, where ecosystem should be balanced and measures should be taken to preserve the environment. Principle of sustainability also comprises balance in the country’s economy by earning the same amount of profit as that of expenditure. Living within a country directly indicates sustaining the culture. Principles related to cultural aspect demands its conservation at any cost (Ben-Eli, 2015).

Conclusion

Based on the study findings, it can be stated that events and festivals are necessary to provide people entertained in a varied way. The event takes place for a specific period of days and ensures development of the nation on a whole. Thailand people live their life to the fullest with the Songkran event, as it has become an essential part of their tradition and helps in attracting tourists from all over the world. The aim of the Songkran event is to drive away the bad omen and wait for a pure awakening.

References

Asia Web Direct (2018). Songkarn 2018 in Bangkok Songkarn festival- April 13th to 15th 2018. Retrieved June 1, 2018, from https://www.bangkok.com/information-festivals/songkran.htm

Ben-Eli, M. (2015). A sustainability laboratory publication. The Sustainability Laboratory,2-9

Carruthers, M. (2018). Songkran, everything you need to know about Thailand’s famous New Year water fight. Retrieved June 1, 2018, from https://www.scmp.com/lifestyle/travel-leisure/article/2139071/songkran-everything-you-need-know-about-thailands-famous

Cudny, W. (2013). Festival tourism – the concept, key functions and dysfunctions in the context of tourism geography studies. Geographical Journal, 65(2), 105-118.

Downtown Rochester. (2016). First time event planning guide. Rochester Downtown Alliance,1- 15.

Greg ,G. & Wilson, J. (2004). The impact of cultural events on city image: Rotterdam, cultural capital of Europe 2001. Urban Studies, 41(10), 1931–1951.

Greg , G. & Wilson, J. (2004). The impact of cultural events on city image: Rotterdam, cultural capital of Europe 2001. Urban Studies, 41(10), 1931–1951.

 Hernández-Mogollón, J. M., Folgado-Fernández, J. A. & Duarte, P. A.O. (2014). Event tourism analysis and State of the art. European Journal of Tourism,  Management and Recreation, 5(2), 83-102.

Lauzon, A.W.Q. (n.d.). Songkhran and Chiang Mai tours: Interfacing tourism, the state and local culture. Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, 58-72.

Lesi?, K. T., Brš?i?, K. & Ruži?, M. D. (2017). The importance of understanding Event experience. Tourism in Southern and Eastern Europe, 4, 605-618.

Mair, J. & Whitford, M. (2013). An exploration of events research: Event topics, themes and emerging trends. International Journal of Event and Festival Management, 4(1), 6-30.

Office Holidays. (2018). Songkran festival in Thailand 2019. Retrieved June 1, 2018, from https://www.officeholidays.com/countries/thailand/songkran.php

Online Reporters. (2018). Songkran death toll rises to 188 after three days. Retrieved June 1, 2018, from https://www.bangkokpost.com/news/general/1446079/songkran-death-toll-rises-to-188-after-three-days

Pinheiro, R. (2015). The role of internal and external stakeholders. ResearchGate, 1- 16.

Popescu, R. I. & Corbo?, R. A. (2012). The role of festivals and cultural events in the strategic development of cities. Recommendations for urban areas in Romania. Informatica Economic?, 16(4), 19-28.

Rodgers, G. (2018). Songkran: The Thailand water festival.Trip Savvy. Retrieved June 1, 2018, from https://www.tripsavvy.com/thailand-water-festival-1458348

Tourism Authority of Thailand. (2014). Thai events and festivals. Ebrochure,1-35.

Tsai,L. M. & Sakulsinlapakorn, K. (2016). Exploring tourists’ push and pull travel motivations to participate in Songkran festival in Thailand as a tourist destination: A case of taiwanese visitors. Journal of Tourism and Hospitality Management, 4(5), 183-197.

Valentino, P. (2015). A definition mega event. ResearchGate, 1-10.

Wongsawat, K. W. (2015). Songkran, Lulu Press, Inc.

Wright-St Clair, V., Bunrayong, W., Vittayakorn, S., Rattakorn, P & Hocking, C.(2004). Offerings: food traditions of older Thai women at Songkran. Journal of Occupational Science , 11 (3), 115-124.

Zarantonello, L. & Schmitt, B. H. (2013). The impact of event marketing on brand equity: the mediating roles of brand experience and brand attitude. International Journal of Advertising,32 (2), 2-28.

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