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Phuket Pride Week to embrace record number of tourists

April 16, 2014

Asia’s most picturesque resort is set to embrace the LGBT community during the upcoming Phuket Pride Week in what is likely to be a record for Thailand tourism.

GayAsiaNews reports that Although Thailand does not recognize marriage between same-sex couples, Phuket is being promoted as one of the best places in the world for gay people to marry, Pride organizers say.

Tourist packages designed for the gay community have already started during the holiday season of Songkran, Thailand’s New Year April 13-16, the country’s most important cultural festival.

Following that is the Phuket Gay Pride & Festival April 21-27 in Patong Beach, which a Tourism Authority of Thailand official told GayAsiaNews is all set to welcome at least one million foreign tourists, making it a record number of tourist gathering for a single event in Phuket. This is over and above the number of foreign tourists already in Phuket or those visitors from other parts of Thailand.

The Pride week coincides with Easter holidays that many foreign countries have, the tourism official said.

Euromonitor International’s list of “Top City Destinations” ranks Phuket as 31st with 3,344,700 visitors, annually.

“I’m coming out” says the high end Amari hotel chain in its promotional blurb. “Rainbow flags at the ready! Grab your closest ‘Dancing Queen’ and prepare to experience the colorful, fun and eccentric nightlife of Patong beach.”

Phuket’s annual Gay Festival on Patong Beach is a riot of well-toned bodies or those with over-the-top costumes on floats and in parades, well-organized activities and fun street parties –- a far different scene from the discreet first Gay Festival and Parade in 1999.

The fun in Phuket Pride Week is open to all, says Phuket Loves You Club, an NGO working for the local LGBT community.

The theme for this year’s Pride week is ”Celebrating who we are” and all through the week there will be parties and events for all people, be they gay, straight or undecided to come together, have fun and celebrate diversity because “we live in a mixed and understanding society,” says a Phuket Loves You Club member.

The NGO hopes to raise money for HIV charities in Phuket where they largely work to enable local people to get free HIV & STD testing, receive safe sex advice and free condoms.

Phuket island in the Andaman Sea of southern Thailand is one of the most popular tourist and spa destinations in the world. The gay beach is called Patong Beach and Patong town hosts mainly gay hotels, bars, saunas, massage establishments and clubs.

Tourism is a major economic generator in Thailand contributing an estimated 7 percent of the GDP.

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