No Plan to Cancel Songkran, Tourism Chief Says

Revelers engage in a waterfight on Khaosan Road during the 2019 Songkran festival.
Revelers engage in a waterfight on Khaosan Road during the 2019 Songkran festival.

BANGKOK — Despite concerns over the coronavirus outbreak, a senior official on Tuesday said government-sponsored events to celebrate Thai New Year will go ahead as planned, albeit some changes.

Tourism Authority of Thailand governor Yuthasak Supasorn said the festival will be held as usual since there is no official announcement from the government to cancel it. However, he said some adjustments will be made to the activities in response to the ongoing epidemic and drought.

“Both the government and private sector are considering plans for this year’s festival,” Yuthasak said. “As of now, TAT-sponsored events are still on and we will make some changes in response to the outbreak and drought situation.”

But a spokesman for the Ministry of Tourism and Sports also said there is still a possibility that the festival might be canceled altogether, depending on the situations at hand.

“We are thinking about it, but many events have been canceled by the organizers themselves already,” spokesman Khananart Muennu said.

He continued, “Although the government has yet to make an official announcement on the Songkran festival, the public should refrain from mass gatherings to prevent further spread of virus.”

The Thai New Year celebration, or Songkran, typically sees thousands of Thais and foreign tourists taking to the streets to participate in waterfights. The events usually run from April 13-15, though the festivities are extended by up to a week in some provinces.

Activities are sometimes cut short in certain years due to severe drought.

As of Tuesday afternoon, major Songkran events like the three-day S2O Music Festival and Siam Songkran Music Festival are still running their ticket sales. The organizers have not made any changes to the lineup.