The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is once again proudly extending support to the staging of the second edition of the ‘Ekiden’ relay race, to be held in the ancient Thai capital of Ayutthaya on 28 January, 2018.
This year’s event has been renamed as ‘Krungsri Ayutthaya Kizuna Ekiden 2018’, reflecting a new collaboration with the Bank of Ayudhya, while key organisers remain unchanged, namely: the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, TAT, and Japan’s Mainichi Newspapers and RKB Mainichi Broadcasting.
Mr. Santi Chudintra, TAT Deputy Governor for International Marketing (Asia and the South Pacific), said: “In the second year, the Krungsri Ayutthaya Kizuna Ekiden 2018 will build on the success of the first year and will help strengthen the bond between Thailand and Japan even further, while showcasing the beautiful scenery, cultural and historical heritage sites of Ayutthaya, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.”
Ekiden, a type of long-distance relay race, has long been popular in Japan with the first being sponsored in 1917. The race requires a team effort with each member running a set distance with a cloth sash, or tasuki, which is then handed to the next runner in the team.
The inaugural Ayutthaya Kizuna Ekiden was held on 12 March, last year, to celebrate 130 years of Thai-Japanese diplomatic relations, and saw 400 teams with a total of 1,600 runners taking part, comprising 60 per cent Thai and 40 per cent Japanese.
The Krungsri Ayutthaya Kizuna Ekiden 2018 is limited to 400 four-member teams, with each member of the team running about 3.4 kilometres each of the 13.6-kilometre distance. Runners must register in a team format only, and in each team must have at least one Thai runner or one Japanese runner.
Japan is one of Thailand’s largest source of tourist markets. In 2017, Thailand recorded 1.54 million visitors from Japan, up 7.21 per cent, generating upwards of 65 billion Baht in revenue. For 2018, TAT expects to welcome 1.56 million Japanese to Thailand.
Easy air access from Japan is deemed as one of the contributing factors. During this current timetable, ending 24 March, 2018, there are 194 flights per week between major cities in Thailand and Japan. In addition, there are new and increased flights. Thai AirAsia X recently increased its Osaka-Bangkok frequency from 7 to 14 flights per week, while planning to resume its Sapporo-Bangkok service as well as introducing a new Hakodate-Bangkok route. Thai Lion Air also plans to introduce new direct services from Fukuoka, Tokyo and Osaka to Bangkok.