Developing a City through a Festival Economy and Festivalisation

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A festival is an event which attracts a large number of participants. It can generate huge income for both the event organiser and local businesses. It can be a major force in driving economic growth.

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    The Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau, or TCEB, recognises the importance of festivals and is pushing the “Festival Economy” policy to create positive economic impacts from “Festivalisation”.

The Application of ‘Festivalisation’ and the ‘Festival Economy’

    Festivalisation is a process to create events which gather people who share a common interest. The aim of these events is to create unforgettable memories, emotional engagement and shared experiences for the participants.

    Festivalisation and the festival economy concept are being adopted to create festivals that can attract larger crowds, improve visitors’ experiences, and create greater economic impacts by combining different event formats, such as a conference with a live performance.

    TCEB’s Festival Economy policy was initiated from the concept of how best to create work to develop a city. The policy focusses on two key elements:

     Creating experiences through an international festival. The festival’s design is based on the city or local community’s identity and aims to expand the number of festival visitors and advocates. The goal is to create a long-lasting festival heritage for each city.

     Generating income from the large numbers of festival visitors. The income will drive the host city’s economic development and lead to other developments in the city.   

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    The key strategy of a festival economy is to promote and support co-operation between local communities and the five professional associations:  the Thailand International Events & Festivals Trade Association (TIEFA), Thai Mass Participation Sports Trade Association (TMPSA), Thailand Entertainment Creators Network Association (TECNA), The Association of Contemporary Art and Culture (CAPT) and Event Management Association (EMA). These associations work together to design a festival appropriate for each city, and are important drivers in the success of TCEB’s festival economy policy.

    The co-operation from these professional associations to support the festival economy policy provides the foundation for the development of “One City One Licensed Event”, a project designed to create and promote the selected city’s identity to the world. Its goals are to boost the Thai economy, to promote the city as a festival destination and to sustainably develop the city’s economic growth.

Highlighting Thai Culture and Art to Create a Festival’s Identity

    Thailand has a unique culture that attracts millions of tourists to visit the country each year. The annual Songkran Festival is one of the country’s important festivals with a long history. It has long generated huge revenues from international tourists and boosted the country’s economy each year.

    The Ubon Ratchathani Candle Festival is one of the biggest religious festivals in the northeast. Spectacular figurines carved out of candle wax are displayed in a big parade. The event is an excellent example of a local economic development based on its cultural capital. It follows the government’s developmental strategy to generate income in local communities, to support and promote religion and culture, and to promote Thai festivals to be recognised internationally.

    To create the identity of a festival based on the local culture is a fundamental characteristic of many Thai provincial festivals, and has become a focus point of the festival design process of TCEB’s festival economy policy.