Using the popularity of homegrown “boys’ love” (BL) productions as an attraction, Thailand has launched a campaign to attract international tourists, particularly Japanese tourists.
According to the Thailand Tourism Authority (TAT), the campaign was launched in June at the Mini Thai Festival in Osaka, Japan. Two booths were set up by video distributors in the “Thai BL” corner, attracting a large crowd that was also there to view Thai street food stalls and a Muay Thai exhibition.
The productions, known as “Y series” in Thailand — a reference to the Japanese “yaoi” fiction that features relationships between male characters and served as the inspiration for BL dramas — were once viewed with prejudice but have since gained acceptance due to their potential to serve as cultural exports.
When the TAT’s Osaka office offered eight participants a trial tour, partially funded by the office, to BL drama location sites in Thailand in early June, the slots were filled immediately.
ChanyuthSawetsuwan, the head of TAT’s Osaka office, stated that the boom witnessed in Japan has spread to other Asian nations and South America, prompting the Thai government to position BL dramas as tourism-promoting content.
Rujirat Ishikawa, a Thai assistant professor at Aoyama Gakuin University specializing in Japanese manga culture, stated that BL dramas include scenes in which boys come out to family members or demonstrate similar acts of courage, giving viewers a sense of their inner struggles.
Ishikawa noted, however, that Thai BL dramas frequently conclude with a happy ending, fostering positive emotions to eliminate prejudice against sexual minorities. (NNT)