Thailand’s Prime Minister has instructed the Ministry of Tourism and Sports to clear up misunderstandings about the length of this year’s Songkran festival.

Thai Prime Minister Settha Thavisin said that Tourism and Sports Minister Sudawan Wangsupkhakijkosol will explain what it means to extend the Songkran celebration period to 21 days, the Bangkok Post reported. According to previous government statements, the festival will last 21 days.

Some foreign tourists mistakenly believe that the extension of the celebration means that water fights occur every day across the country for 21 days starting on 1 April.

Government spokesman Chai Watcharonke said last week that although the Maha Songkran World Water Festival runs nationwide from 1 to 21 April, the events are held in some provinces.

Chai said the Tourism Authority of Thailand has compiled a calendar listing 21 days of nationwide celebrations from 1 to 21 April. Only the main Songkran celebrations occur in each province from 13 to 15 April.

Recently, a video of a confused Chinese tourist armed with a water pistol outside a shopping centre in Bangkok circulated on social media. The bewildered tourists discovered no one else was celebrating Songkran or dousing themselves with water.

The video of the tourist was published on the popular Chinese video hosting site Douyin, after which the footage with Thai translation was shared by the Facebook page ‘Daka China’*, a page about China.

The Prime Minister promised to clear up the confusion, saying the Ministry of Tourism and Sports would clarify the issue. Settha Thavisin urged the public to be patient in clearing up misunderstandings and attributed the confusion to the spread of conflicting information about the revised format of this year’s Songkran festival.

The Prime Minister also said each province enjoys its unique traditions of celebrating Songkran through its cultural roots. In some regions, such as Samutprakan and Pattaya, the festival is held after the main celebration period of 13-15 April.

In February, it was reported that Thailand’s Ministry of Culture will hold the ‘World Songkran Festival’ nationwide from 1-21 April 2024. The 21-day Songkran festival will be organized through a cultural network in 76 provinces and 50 districts in Bangkok. It is expected to promote local traditions and help Thailand become a well-known global destination for travellers.

Songkran is the traditional Thai New Year, celebrated initially as three-day bank holidays from 13 to 15 April. The main activities include dousing sacred Buddha statues and the palms of parents’ hands with scented water and the famous water dousing.

Thailand’s Ministry of Culture has received a certificate from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) recognising Thailand’s Songkran festival as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

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