Together with Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism and Sports, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has teamed up with Leicester City FC and King Power to launch the ‘Thailand Smiles With You‘ campaign. The campaign will highlight support from the Thai public to those around the world challenged by the Covid-19 pandemic. The partnership will also support Thailand’s tourism industry as the country starts to bounce back from the coronavirus crisis. The Leicester City team will wear shirts featuring the slogan ‘Thailand Smiles With You‘ during the 2020/21 Premier League season.
The partnership was announced at a news conference in Bangkok on July 23, 2020. Underlining the importance of the campaign, a number of high-ranking Thai officials were in attendance including Thailand’s leader, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha, and TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn. Also present at the launch of the campaign in Bangkok was the CEO of the King Power Group and Leicester City FC Chairman, Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha. Known affectionately to Leicester City fans by his nickname, ‘Top’, the Thai businessman said, “Thailand remains one of the world’s top destinations for travellers with its remarkable ‘Thainess’ that is inscribed in the famous Thai smile, a unique trait of the Thai people. This inspired us to name the campaign ‘Thailand Smiles with You’.”
Throughout the 2020/21 English football season, the Thailand Smiles With You message will be on prominent display around Leicester City’s King Power Stadium and will also be used on the club’s social media platforms. King Power have already pledged significant support to local communities in Leicester during the pandemic and the new campaign is an opportunity to strengthen international relationships.
King Power and the Siamese Foxes
Bangkok-based King Power acquired Leicester City FC in 2010. The remarkable story of the team, nicknamed The Foxes and known in Thailand as the Siamese Foxes, saw them defy the odds to not only avoid relegation in 2015, but to top that achievement the following season. Leicester City achieved what is arguably the biggest sporting shock the world has ever seen when they were crowned Premier League champions for the first time in 2016. At the start of the 2015/16 season, Leicester City were favourites to be relegated. Any fan crazy enough to place a bet on them winning the league could get odds of 5,000-1 – the same odds as Elvis being found alive.
Leicester City’s incredible achievement in the 2015/16 season owed much to the players and charismatic manager, Claudio Ranieri. But there was also a Thai man who played a pivotal role in making the impossible dream come true; Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha. The founder of King Power Duty Free in Thailand, Vichai acquired Leicester City in 2010 and oversaw the rise of the club on and off the pitch. Vichai was tragically killed in 2018 – along with four other people on board – when his private helicopter crashed shortly after leaving the King Power Stadium. His legacy lives on and Leicester City fans still chant his name at matches. It is Vichai’s son, Aiyawatt, who has taken on his late father’s role and continues the close bond between Thailand and Leicester.
Supporting communities in the UK and Thailand
Speaking at the news conference in Bangkok, Aiyawatt said, “In Leicester, the club has been able to reach out directly to make support available to a number of causes affected by the pandemic and will retain the backing of King Power to continue supporting Leicester’s future recovery.
“This campaign is our opportunity to make a difference in Thailand, where tourism contributes significantly to the nation’s economy and, as a result, the livelihoods of millions of Thai people.
“The relationship between King Power and Leicester City has been such a powerful vehicle for success for our entire organisation in the last 10 years. I’m extremely proud to make the power of that relationship available to the Tourism Authority of Thailand in the 2020/21 season.”
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