The Pattaya Music Festival, one of the biggest events on the city’s tourism-promotion calendar, has been canceled, a victim of budget tightening.
Pattaya City Hall conceded defeat in its efforts to hold the three-stage festival this year after the Interior Ministry denied the city’s appeal for funds to accept bids from event promoters online. The bidding originally was planned for Feb. 10 with the concert to be held in the second half of March.
The ministry capped Pattaya’s budget for music and cultural events at 10 million baht, far short of the usual cost to hold the multi-day concert series. The initial refusal was issued Dec. 29.
The writing had been on the wall for some time for the music fest, which last year generated some of its smallest crowds in its 15-year history. In August, the city council said it was considering cutting up to 40 million baht from city projects, including the music festival, to spend on flood control, waste disposal and education.
The move came after the Office of the Auditor-General in July last year said Pattaya’s former elected leaders wasted public funds by duplicating projects, such as neighborhood cleanups and youth football tournaments.
City Council Chairman Anan Angkanawisan argued that there was 30-40 million baht allocated to projects that was not necessary or of benefit to the city. In addition, he maintained, huge budgets for annual tourism-driving events, such as the music festival and year-end Pattaya Countdown, also were not needed as they didn’t attract the crowds they once did.
Last year’s Pattaya Countdown concert indeed was canceled, with the official reasons stated as the royal mourning period.
Pinit Maneerat, the former police major general recently appointed as city’s top spokesman, echoed the same line at the March 7 Pattaya Business & Tourism Association meeting.
He said good public relations efforts were sufficient to boost the city’s image even if big events are canceled. He said the city put the priority on events that stress culture and tradition and suggested Songkran could be such an event if more emphasis was placed on tradition and “real culture” instead of water fights.
He said the proper way to promote Songkran in Pattaya would be having people dress in traditional costume, showcase Thai music, promote Thai food and traditional shows.
PBTA members, fully aware that foreign tourists come to Pattaya during Songkran for water play, not water buffalo celebrations, declined to commit to any action plan, postponing it to a later meeting.
The business leaders met to find an alternative to the music festival, noting a smaller budget for similar events remains on the books.
Thanet Supornsahatrangsi, vice president of the Tourism Council of Thailand and a city council member, said public offices and private organizations need to brainstorm ideas to submit to Chonburi’s governor, as there are several other events involving sports, music and tourism that already are on the calendar and could possibly be moved up.