Gov’t Defends Spending 100 Mil Baht to Hire Celebs for NYE Festival

Andrea Bocelli, at left, and Lalisa “Lisa” Manobal.

BANGKOK — The government insists on its plan to spend up to 100 million baht on securing the appearance of K-pop star “Lisa Blackpink” and Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli for the New Year’s Eve festivities on Phuket island.

Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn told reporters that both superstars will bring in much needed tourism revenues for the country, and said most of the cost will be covered by sponsorships from the private sector, though he did not name any organizations in particular.

Phiphat said the plan is endorsed by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha himself, but a formal decision on the matter will have to be decided in a Cabinet meeting scheduled for Nov. 16. The tourism ministry will review draft contracts by the end of this month, he added.

Government officials have said that hiring Lalisa “Lisa” Manobal, the Thailand-born singer from the K-pop band Blackpink, and Bocelli will help promote tourism and generate considerable economic boon to the southern island of Phuket.



Their superstar performance in Phuket would coincide with the upcoming reopening to tourists on Nov. 1, the government said.

Bocelli was also initially set to perform in Bangkok as well, but the government already scrapped the idea.

But the plan to hire the two global celebrities has come under intense criticism on social media, where critics point to the huge cost involved, which they believe should have been spent on supporting the small businesses hit by the pandemic instead. Others suggested the government give priority to domestic musical talents, many of whom have been unemployed since the coronavirus outbreak in April.