The contradiction between the purpose of the water-splashing tradition, the use of water in a water-stressed destination and overconsumption during a time of water shortage led the researchers to question the spirit of the Songkran Festival. It is important to keep the spirit of the festival alive without interrupting the livelihoods of the community and to critically engage with opportunities and challenges related to water-saving practices during the festival. Thus, this study aims to investigate the opportunities and challenges to responsible practices of water-saving at a cultural festival, using a case study of the water-splashing practice at the Songkran Festival in Thailand.
This study used the cultural practice, namely, the water-splashing tradition at the Songkran Festival in Thailand, as a case study. The researchers conducted document analysis on local newspapers, the Bangkok Post specifically and participant observation at the Songkran Festival in the Khao San Road area in Bangkok, to gain first-hand insights to develop comprehensive results which answers the study’s objectives.
The key findings show three significant themes representing the opportunities for implementing sustainable water-saving practices; a call for a water-saving campaign, education on water saving and water-splashing restrictions. In terms of challenges to implementing water-saving practices, two key themes emerged; a lack of water stress and drought awareness and the hedonistic characteristic of water splashing. The study findings provide important implications to theory and practice for sustainable event management and provide considerations for event stakeholders to minimise water overuse in festivals.
Environmental degradation is a key global issue that the United Nations addresses in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) scheme (United Nations Development Program, 2016). According to Pereira et al. (2009), water scarcity can be caused by both human activities and natural causes. Factors such as unlimited water consumption, population growth and climate change are some of the contributing factors that not only affects resident's access to water but also on events hosted within communities. It is crucial that event managers critically re-think the way festivals are designed in water-stressed destinations.
This paper forms part of a special section of IJEFM on the contribution of festivals and events towards the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, guest edited by Drs Ubaldino Couto, Brendon Knott and Julie Whitfield.
Intason, M., Coetzee, W. and Lee, C. (2021), "The development, implementation and challenges to water-saving practices in a water-stressed destination: a case study of the Songkran Festival, Thailand", International Journal of Event and Festival Management, Vol. 12 No. 3, pp. 279-296. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJEFM-10-2020-0065
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