23 May 2024

Thailand’s powerful travel campaign “Travel is Back” courtesy of  Gladiator star Russell Crowe ended this week with the Australian star bidding farewell to Bangkok on Twitter to his 2.7 million followers.  “Goodbye Bangkok. Stay happy and busy and beautiful.”

Crowe stirred up the Twitter community during his quarantine in Phuket and subsequent sojourn in Bangkok to work on the Vietnam War-era flick by tweeting a series of #LostinBangkok messages. Through his photos, he shared his impressions of the Kingdom and his well-intentioned texts and pictures quickly turned him into Thailand’s tourism ambassador. It should be noted that what he’s done, free of charge, has lifted Thailand’s tourism spirit just in time for the country’s reopening on November 1.

Here are things we learned and should learn from the Hollywood superstar’s visit.

  1.  “Less is more” is perhaps the most effective communication. Crowe didn’t elaborate much at first but he tweeted photos with the tag #Lost in Bangkok.
  2. The government and related officials could learn a great deal from him by using layman’s language and simple words in real life. His “TRAVEL IS BACK” (yes, in capital letters) is so simple yet powerful. If one cares to learn, just read his most recent tweet on Thailand: “November 1st travel to Thailand opens up for doublevaccinated travelers from 46 countries with a minimal quarantine process…..”
  3. Visitors’ aesthetics and the way they appreciate the Kingdom varies from one person to another. The chaotic street scene may fascinate many while some may appreciate a more orderly way of life. So promoting tourism should be as diverse as we’ve seen in Crowe’s tweets. From the Hollywood actor’s perspective, the attractions are temple, street, food, hospitality, Chinese Shrines, city skyline buildings, electrical poles, decorated street lights and waterways.
  4. Some English signs would do visitors a great favour. The Hollywood star suggests English signs in places that are not customary tourist spots. “What bridges celebrate, who’s the statue?”
  5. The county’s cultural scene like temples and old buildings is still attractive but the lifestyle and real lives of people can also be magnets. Not to encourage more or suggest it is great, but the infamous rat’s nest of electrical and telephone wires amazes visitors. Crowe took one landscape photo with those messy wires. Perhaps after we put all wires and fiber cords under the ground, we could keep one spot somewhere safe to demonstrate how it is done before.
  6. Food is still Thailand’s strength. Think about it: why do all superstars and renowned international chefs come to visit Michelinstarred street food outlet Jay Fai (Supinya Junsuta)?
  7. Hospitality that always works its magic: this is not the hospitality by the book as the Tourism Authority of Thailand tends to believe. It’s real hospitality that matters.
  8. We’ve said it more than enough but we have to say it again: Thailand should be more pedestrian-and-bike friendly. Look at how Crowe enjoyed his bike tour around the city. It would have been more difficult had it happened during the non-pandemic time.
  9. Paid influencers are not always working and the Tourism Authority of Thailand may not always spend massively hiring stars and celebrities to endorse tourism. The honest and genuine appreciation from guests is much more powerful.
  10. A hero isn’t forgotten. During his Thailand stay, Crowe took a photo with a Thai man most people did not recognize: “Met my hero today. Police Officer Anirut!” he wrote and everyone wondered who he was. His followers helped explained that he was Anirut Malee the police officer who disarmed a mentally distressed guy armed with a knife and he did it with empathy, compassion and a hug. Back in 2017, the Hollywood star tweeted the news about Anirut and said: Police Officer Anirut Malee, you are my new hero as he quoted a news tweet with headline “Anirut gave the attacker a big hug”.

By Veena Thoopkrajae

Actor Russell Crowe promotes ‘Phuket Sandbox’, Bangkok’s electrical wiring

Hollywood actor Russell Crowe has been in Thailand to shoot a Vietnam War era movie called “The Greatest Beer Run Ever” and is now posting pictures on the streets of Bangkok after entering the Kingdom through the “Phuket Sandbox” scheme.