BANGKOK, Jan. 1 (Xinhua) -- The clock has ticked over to 2018 and Rayong, an eastern Thai province, has been hailed as a breezy new year celebration spot that drew cheers and gasps from the about 20,000 visitors on Sunday night.
Fireworks lighted up the sky over a popular seaside town in the province where the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) held a massive countdown event.
In breezy weather and an air of unique festivity, the event featured stylish live music along with local food by community chefs, DIY activities at several interesting workshops.
This is the first time TAT comes to make the local countdown event bigger, aiming to attract more tourists, hopefully, from China.
"Last year we have 35 million foreign visitors to Thailand, but most of they would like to spend lot of time in major cities such as Bangkok, Pattaya, Chiangmai and Phuket. TAT is trying to create the flow from the major destinations to secondary provinces," Tanes Petsuwan, deputy governor for marketing communications from TAT told Xinhua.
According to Tanes, the TAT held countdown celebrations simultaneously for the first time in five provinces nationwide, including Lampang in the north, Sakon Nakhon province in the northeastern region, Kanchanaburi in the west, Phuket in the south and Rayong in the east.
"Rayong is one of these provinces we are promoting. As a land of fruits, fresh seafood and pristine beaches, Rayong offers all the favorite elements for Chinese tourists to make up a holiday full of fun," said Tanes, who is looking forward to more and more Chinese arrivals to the province.
Located at eastern board of Thailand, approximately 185 km from Bangkok, the province is well known for its oddly shaped islands and rocks. The largest island, Koh Samet is a popular with foreign tourists.
Beside rich seafood products and tropical fruits, Rayong owns joyful festivals and traditional activities especially Rayong Fruit Festival occurring annually during May when fruit reaches its peak season.
The province has been promoting its community based tourism programs that allow visitors to learn about local ways of life with rustic charm, such as rubber tipping, fruit planting.
With the neighboring Uttapao airport being expanded and increasing direct flights from China opened, Rayong is ready to embrace the growing surge of Chinese tourists, said the deputy governor, adding that the province has seen more and more tourists attractions putting up Chinese signs and local products with Chinese introduction.
According to Tanes, tourism plays a significant role in Thailand's economy, accounting for nearly 20 percent of the country's GDP.
In 2017 Thailand received about 10 million Chinese tourists, who remain the main contributor to country's tourism revenue.