Thailand still The Land of Smiles' News Feed

Visitors enjoying the friendly bustle of Bangkok recently may have had the chance to witness the release of thousands of smiley-faced balloons that were sent off into the skies above the city.

The balloons were floated into the sky to kick start Thailand Happiness: Street Festival', a scheme launched by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) aimed at attracting more visitors to the Kingdom.

The opening ceremony of the carnival was presided over by Admiral Narong Pipatanasai, deputy head of the National Council for Peace and Order and Thawatchai Arunyik, governor of the TAT, in addition to a host of other representatives from Thai society.

Visitors crowded the busy Rama I and Ratchaprasong thoroughfares of the city in order to enjoy the celebrations. The streets were closed to traffic, with walking streets intended to symbolize the happiness and relaxed nature of the country. Two events, the "Happiness Music" event and the "Happiness Street" event, were held at the end of July.

The spectacular release of thousands of smiley-faced balloons will symbolize that Thailand is always ready to welcome tourists to the Kingdom with friendly Thai smiles, said Thawatchai Arunyik, Governor of the TAT. As the event has been jointly organized by representatives of all the Thai people, it sends out a single message of unity and welcome.

The launch of the TAT's new marketing scheme is designed to boost tourism following the country's military coup earlier this year. The new campaign, which is known as Amazing Thailand: Happiness Within' aims to promote the concepts of Thainess', happiness and sustainability in order to reach the THB2.2 trillion (US$68 billion) revenue target for tourism in 2015.

Next year's targets are very challenging, but TAT believes that with good cooperation and professionalism from all sectors here, we can step forward to reach the target, based on a common vision and sense of purpose, Arunyik was reported as saying in July.

The new scheme is aimed at overseas visitors who have never before made the trip to the Land of Smiles. The prorgramme focuses on niche tourism areas including golf, honeymoons, weddings, health and wellness and ecotourism.