One cannot deny that tourism took one of the hardest hits in the coronavirus pandemic. With borders being closed and everyone being told to sit inside their houses, even a short staycation style outing became a rarity.
Because of this regions that depended heavily on tourism as a form of revenue found it extremely difficult to get by. A lot of people in these regions whose main source of income was tourists and locals using their services suddenly found it difficult to make ends meet.
One of them were the tuk-tuk taxi drivers in Thailand, who saw a great decline in their income with no tourists and even local outings put on a total stop.
However, in the past few months, an unexpected group has come forward to help them out and really be a helpful source of income during these difficult times.
Those are the Thailand K-Pop fans who buy ad space on these tuk-tuk taxis to advertise for their favourite K-Pop artists.
K-Pop Fans To The Rescue?
For the last few months, K-Pop fans in Thailand have been buying ad space on tuk-tuks and street food vendors giving them a decent source of income.
Fans of various K-Pop artists and groups pay drivers of these tuk-tuks to put up banners of their K-Pop idols for a certain period of time, with different messages. Some might be celebrating their idol’s birthday or an album launch or just some project that the fans have going on in the name of the artist.
As per a Reuters reports, a 39-year-old tuk-tuk taxi driver Samran Thammasa, was even quoted by media talking about how this was a huge help to them.
Fans of K-pop star Jessica Jung paid him to put up her ads, and even though he didn’t even know of their existence before the pandemic, he is still grateful to the fans.
Before the pandemic, Thammasa reportedly earned around 1,500 baht ($47) per day from tourists wanting to see around Bangkok. But this number fell drastically as visitor rate dropped down by 85% in 2020.
Thammasa was barely earning anything after the city went into lockdown however in just the last few months he’s managed to earn around 600 baht ($19) a month just by featuring these ads on his tuk-tuk.
He said, “The extra income may not be a lot for most people but it is for us.”
Tuk tuk drivers as per reports have not been helped as they should have been by the supposedly massive 967 billion baht ($30 billion) government approved relief fund.
The problem, however, comes in that most of the funds are only available through a mobile wallet application, something that not many of these people have access to.
Pairot Suktham, a 54-year-old driver said “By the time the money reaches us, we’re nearly dead. The fans are our life support system and give us hope to keep fighting.”
The Thai fans upon seeing these tuk-tuks would take pictures, uploading them to social media and even use the taxis themselves, often tipping at the end.
Not Just Fans Spending Money Unnecessarily
Apparently, these young K-Pop fans did not decide to put up ads on tuk-tuks without any reason. There is in fact, a pretty big political issue because of which Thai youth is choosing to go this route.
Earlier these very K-Pop fans would choose public transport like metros, buses and such to advertise their artist. Their choosing to not do so and instead pick local and small businesses is a very deliberate decision by them.
This decision to advertise on tuk-tuks has helped over a couple hundred drivers of the vehicle.
The reasoning behind this is actually anti-government protests where the youth of Thailand has been demanding since last that the current Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha should step down.
Chan-ocha got to power initially through a military coup and besides that, the authorities have been actively trying to kill the protests.
K-Pop fans who would earlier rent ad space on Bangkok’s Skytrain and underground subway services bringing huge amounts of money from the billboard advertising fees decided to stop doing so as a form of protest.
This was after there was a mass transport shut down meant to prevent protesting students from reaching the protest areas.
As per reports, 27-year-old Pichaya Prachathomrong has said “It’s a political expression that we don’t support capitalists. This marked a change from us competing to book skytrain and subway billboards, but now it’s tuk tuks.”
She actually managed to raise around 18,000 baht ($565) from Thai fans of the boy band Super Junior to advertise Yesung’s (a member of the group) new album.
Pichaya used LINE a messaging application to book 13 tuk-tuks to display these ads.
Image Credits: Google Images
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This post is tagged under: K-pop activism, Thailand tuk tuk drivers, K-pop stars, K-pop fans, K-pop ads, thai kpop fans, thailand economy, tuk tuk drivers, tuk tuk drivers economy, tuk tuk drivers pandemic, bangkok tourism, coronavirus pandemic, bangkok tourism loss, Thailand tourism industry, anti-government protests. anti-government protests bankok, anti-government protests thailand, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, tuk tuk, tuk tuk advertising, thailand, k-pop, jessica jung, tourism, coronavirus,