The first Bhutan-Thailand festival will be held at the Bhutan Youth Development Fund’s (YDF) multipurpose hall in Thimphu from June 9 to 11 to celebrate friendship and goodwill between the two kingdoms.

Tourism Authority of Thailand’s (TAT) governor, Yuthasak Supasorn, will visit Bhutan from June 7 to 11 to attend the festival.

The festival will hold exhibitions showcasing areas of development cooperation between the two kingdoms. It will also include cultural performances, food fair of traditional cuisines, exhibition of silk products and agro products from the two countries, and Thai boxing, among others.

The festival will be open for public from the afternoon of June 9.

A memorandum of Understanding (MOU) will also be signed between TAT and Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) during the governor’s visit to promote the two kingdoms with the theme, ‘Two kingdoms, One destination.’

TCB spokesperson, Damcho Rinzin, said, “Many activities will take place under this.”

He said that the agreement will also help explore joint business opportunities, circuit destination, community based tourism like sharing experiences and technical expertise.

Bhutan had the highest number of Thai tourist in 2014 – 12,105 visitors in all.

The number of Thai visitors in the country dropped by 69 percent (3,778 tourists) in 2015.

Some 3,617 and 3,527 tourists from Thailand visited the country in 2012 and 2013.

According to the Bhutan Tourism Monitor 2016, Thailand stands at sixth in the top 20 market sources with 4,177 leisure travellers.

Thailand dropped to the fourth place at the top ten international markets in 2016 from third place in the previous year.

Of the total, 52.7 percent of the Thai tourists visiting the country in 2016 were female and the highest numbers of visitors were from age group 36 to 45 at 24.40 percent, followed by the age group between 46 and 55 at 20.90 percent.

More than 95 percent of Thai visitors visited Bhutan for the first time last year, according to the tourism monitor.

Damcho Rinzin said Bhutan and Thailand enjoy strong ties of bilateral relations. “A relation built on a foundation of a shared spiritual heritage, respect for the institutions of monarchy, and reverence for culture and traditions.”

The two countries celebrated 25 years of diplomatic relations in 2014.

Dechen Tshomo