BANGKOK (Xinhua) — Thailand’s National Security Council Secretary-General Natthaphon Nakpanit on Thursday has confirmed that no tourists will arrive in Thailand’s resort island of Phuket until its annual vegetarian festival is over by the end of this month.
The Phuket Vegetarian Festival will be taking place in Phuket with light and sound, performances and food stalls lines up in Phuket’s major towns from Oct. 17 to 25.
Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew also made an abrupt announcement on social media on Wednesday that he had decided to delay the arrival of tourists out of concern that local residents may fear going outdoor to celebrate the festival with the presence of foreign tourists.
The first group of 150 Chinese nationals with special tourist visas (STV) was earlier to be allowed entry into the country on Oct. 8.
Narong said that the Chinese tourists have agreed to come after Oct. 25.
Narong said that allowing the Vegetarian Festival to go ahead this year took a lot of discussion and was a decision not made lightly.
“Many Thais from other provinces will come to the festival, and there were concerns that foreigners coming to watch the festival may bring the virus to Phuket,” he said.
“I thank the Phuket shrines for their efforts to comply with the health protection measures needed. The decision whether or not to hold the festival was reconsidered again and again. It took a long time to think about (whether or not to hold) the Vegetarian Festival this year, but it will go ahead because it is a part of Phuket’s traditions,” Narong said.