11 July 2024

The Tourism and Sports Ministry is planning a spectacular Thai countdown to 2022, helmed by K-pop sensation Lalisa “Lisa” Manoban in Phuket and Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli in Bangkok.

Huge funding will be required to realize these grand plans, and Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn is convinced he can top up his Bt200 million government budget with another Bt500 million from the private sector.

Phiphat believes the millions needed to book the two dazzling stars will be money well spent, helping Thailand to catapult itself out of the economic crisis triggered by the pandemic.

Bright sensation in Phuket

If Phiphat’s plans materialize, then Lalisa will be counting down the New Year in Phuket in a fabulous extravaganza staged at Sarasin Bridge.

“This countdown is bound to have a positive social and economic impact, especially for the tourism industry,” the minister said. “As well as being a K-pop sensation, Lalisa is a Thai star who is inspiring because she has made it big on the global stage.”

A native of Buri Ram born in 1997, Lalisa was raised by her Thai mum and Swiss stepdad. In 2010, at the tender age of 13, her dance moves caught the eye of a talent scout from South Korea’s YG Entertainment; she was taken on as a trainee the following year. In 2016, Lalisa debuted as one of the four members of South Korean girl group Blackpink.

Last month, the Thai-born star released her first solo single, “Lalisa”, on YouTube and smashed Taylor Swift’s record by winning 73.6 million views in the first 24 hours. Swift’s “Me!” had set a record of 65.2 million views in 2019. Lalisa’s debut album sold over 736,000 copies in South Korea alone in the first week of release.

The young star has more than 63.5 million followers on Instagram and received more than 5.6 million likes and at least 74,000 comments when she announced her appointment as global ambassador for MAC Cosmetics.

Lalisa Manoban in the latest music video launched in September 2021. (Photo courtesy of Blackpink)

Beloved Bocelli in Bangkok

Bangkokians can meanwhile look forward to being swept away by Bocelli’s soaring voice in Sanam Luang, with the glittering Emerald Buddha Temple as a backdrop.

“Bocelli is special. Despite his disability [blindness], he has achieved international fame,” Phipat said. “This icon is an inspiration to us all.”

Born in 1958 in Tuscany, Italy, Bocelli is known for the exceptional beauty of his voice and talent with different musical instruments. He had suffered sight problems since birth but a football accident at the age of 12 left him totally blind.

Since 1982, Bocelli has recorded 15 solo studio albums in both pop and classical music, three greatest-hits albums and nine complete operas. He has sold more than 75 million records worldwide.

In 1998, the tenor was named among People magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People. His duet “The Prayer” with Canadian chanteuse Celine Dion, which appeared on the soundtrack of the animated film “Quest for Camelot”, won the Golden Globe for Best Original Song.

His classical album “Sacred Arias” was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for simultaneously holding the top three positions on the US Classical Albums charts.

As per Celebrity Net Worth, Bocelli has amassed a fortune of US$100 million, mostly from live performances and albums. Bocelli has also made money from television appearances and writing books, some of which are published in English.

Last year, Bocelli broke more records with this 30-minute-long “Music for Hope” concert, which became the biggest live-streamed classical event of all time. Streamed live exclusively via YouTube from an empty cathedral in Milan on Easter Sunday, this performance attracted the largest worldwide audience ever in streaming history.

The video was watched live by 2.8 million people and won more than 28 million views across the world in the first 24 hours. Since then, more than 42.8 million people have watched the concert.

Bocelli said he was singing to send “love, healing and hope” to Italy and the rest of the world in the ongoing struggle against the COVID-19 crisis.

Andrea Bocelli performs during the opening ceremony before the UEFA EURO 2020 Group A football match at the Olympic Stadium in Rome on June 11, 2021. (Photo by Andrew Medichini / POOL / AFP)

By Thai PBS World’s General Desk