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Lisa Manobal’s ‘Rockstar’ Turns Yaowarat into Tourism Hotspot: Economic Impact and Future Plans

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The crescendo of excitement reverberating from the release of the “Rockstar” music video by Lalisa “Lisa” Manobal on June 28 has undeniably thrust Bangkok’s Yaowarat, better known as Chinatown, into the global spotlight. In a breathtaking display of star power, Lisa’s first solo single in three years shattered records, racking up a staggering 32.4 million views on YouTube within a mere 24 hours. This viral sensation filmed predominantly in Yaowarat, has transformed the bustling historic area into a mecca for fans and tourists eager to walk the same streets as the charismatic K-pop idol.

Lisa’s magnetic influence on her homeland is not unprecedented. Back in September 2021, her solo debut album “Lalisa” not only topped charts but also showcased her in traditional Thai attire, with the exquisite Prasat Hin Phanom Rung ruins serving as a majestic backdrop. Even mundane items, like local street vendor meatballs and herbal inhalers beloved by the elderly, have felt the surge of her celebrity aura. When captured in Lisa’s glow, these Thai products witnessed soaring sales.

This extraordinary cultural dynamism prompted calls for Thailand’s government to harness such celebrity influence more strategically, going beyond the Yaowarat phenomenon to ignite pride and draw global attention to more of the country’s rich cultural tapestry.

Mr. Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn, president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents (Atta), lauds Lisa’s profound impact on social media, where her 100 million-strong Instagram following propels Thai soft power worldwide. With her massive reach, Lisa encapsulates the nation’s cultural essence and promotes it with genuine charm. “The government should officially recognize Lisa as a cultural ambassador,” he asserts. “Her unparalleled influence can significantly bolster Thailand’s global image, making it a worthwhile investment that also instills national pride.”

Sanan Angubolkul, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (TCC), echoes this endorsement, but with a caveat. While leveraging the magnetism of celebrities is essential, it must be executed with a subtle touch to avoid appearing overtly commercial. “Lisa’s organic and heartfelt promotion of Thai culture is what makes her so effective,” he explains.

The ripple effects of Lisa’s “Rockstar” can be harnessed beyond the alleys and neon lights of Yaowarat. Mr. Sanan suggests directing tourism efforts towards neighboring locales like Song Wat Road, Sampheng Market, and Talat Noi, celebrated for their vibrant multiculturalism. Expanding celebrity-led marketing campaigns to these areas could transform them into bustling centers of trade, investment, and community living.

Aligned with this vision, the TCC collaborates with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and the Tourism Ministry to advance high-quality tourism through the “Happy Model” initiative, promoting wellness, active lifestyles, and local knowledge sharing across provinces, including Bangkok. This model aims to honour and engage local communities, starting with a pilot project in Yaowarat, to ensure sustainable tourism growth.

The current initiative seeks to uplift ten second-tier provinces—within Phrae, Lampang, Nakhon Sawan, Nakhon Phanom, Sisaket, Chanthaburi, Ratchaburi, Kanchanaburi, Nakhon Si Thammarat, and Trang—turning them into premier tourist destinations. These areas are poised to showcase their unique festivals and attractions, paving the way for economic growth and development.

As Mr. Sisdivachr succinctly puts it, using the buzz generated by Lisa’s video to promote diverse tourist spots across Thailand is both timely and necessary. He urges the government to meticulously evaluate and prepare each targeted province for welcoming visitors, emphasizing safety and readiness as paramount. “Visitors need to feel secure during their travels,” he underscores.

The quest to fortify community identities through tourism is reflected in the policies of Bangkok’s governor, Chadchart Sittipunt, and articulated by BMA spokesman, Aekvaranyoo Amrapala. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has ambitiously enhanced infrastructure and promoted local neighborhood characteristics to invigorate economic activities. Old town areas like Song Wat have seen rejuvenation, attracting young entrepreneurs and creating a vibrant atmosphere.

In unison, the TAT governor, Thapanee Kiatphaibool, underscores plans to capitalize on the music video’s impact by developing tourism activities such as walking routes in the Yaowarat-Songwat-Talad Noi vicinity, promising an economic uplift and revitalization of Bangkok tourism. Initiatives will also spotlight Thailand’s historical Old Town areas, amplifying their allure to long-distance travelers.

Yet, the road to sustained tourism requires regulatory alignments, warns Sanga Ruangwattanakul, president of the Khao San Business Association. Outdated laws and convoluted regulations often impede tourism development and business ventures. Instances like the proposed month-long Songkran festival lacked budget allocations and faced strict regulations on alcohol sponsorship, stifling promotional efforts.

To keep the momentum sparked by Lisa’s “Rockstar” alive, Sanga advocates for coherent policies that support tourist-friendly reforms. “We aim to be a tourist haven, yet limitations on alcohol sales hamper this vision,” he points out. Addressing these disparities is crucial for the longevity of the tourism buzz and the prosperity it promises.


  1. Sonya B. July 6, 2024

    Turning a music video into a tourism boost? Sounds like a lot of hype over nothing.

    • Mike S. July 6, 2024

      Hype or not, you can’t deny the economic impact. 32.4 million views in 24 hours is no joke.

      • Leanne 1987 July 6, 2024

        Exactly, and it’s heartwarming to see someone genuinely promoting their heritage and making a difference.

      • Sonya B. July 6, 2024

        Okay, fair point. But is Lisa’s fame sustainable enough to keep the momentum going long-term?

  2. Aun The Wiz July 6, 2024

    Lisa as a cultural ambassador for Thailand is a fantastic idea. She embodies modern Thai culture.

    • Grower88 July 6, 2024

      Great idea but making her officially a cultural ambassador might commercialize her image too much.

      • Aun The Wiz July 6, 2024

        True, but her organic promotion has been nothing but beneficial.

    • Jenny M. July 6, 2024

      Exactly. People love her precisely because she’s not an official puppet.

  3. Tommy July 6, 2024

    I think the government should definitely take more active steps in promoting tourism leveraging stars like Lisa.

  4. Mason P. July 6, 2024

    Tourism boost is good, but what about the local people? Over-tourism can destroy the charm of these areas.

    • Steve007 July 6, 2024

      If it’s managed well, it doesn’t have to. Look at places like Japan, they do it right.

      • Mason P. July 6, 2024

        Managing it well is the key phrase there. Thailand isn’t exactly Japan.

    • Katie July 6, 2024

      Agreed, over-tourism can lead to increased pollution and loss of cultural authenticity.

  5. Crystal J. July 6, 2024

    Why not focus on existing issues instead of fancy marketing? Thailand has loads of untapped potential.

  6. Nate July 6, 2024

    Marketing is essential to draw attention and investments. It’s a balance between flair and substance.

  7. Alisha T. July 6, 2024

    Lisa’s influence is mind-blowing. I mean, even meatballs are selling better. That’s crazy.

  8. Econ101 July 6, 2024

    Supply and demand are old friends. Her popularity drives demand, which helps local businesses.

  9. Frank O. July 6, 2024

    Seems like a careful strategy is needed though. Can’t put all the eggs in the celebrity basket.

  10. Jia Lee July 7, 2024

    True dat! There’s so much more to Thailand than just celebrity glitter. Let’s focus on real culture.

    • Arun D. July 7, 2024

      Yes, and that’s why expanding tourism to other provinces is a good idea.

  11. Sam C. July 7, 2024

    How about improving infrastructure first? Nobody wants to visit a place without decent roads and amenities.

    • Mia P. July 7, 2024

      You nailed it! Infrastructure is foundational for long-term success.

      • Sam C. July 7, 2024

        Absolutely. It goes hand in hand with promotion.

  12. TouristJoe July 7, 2024

    I visited Yaowarat recently, and it’s already bustling. Do we need more tourists?

  13. Linda Davis July 7, 2024

    Yes, visitors bring money which can be reinvested in maintaining and improving these areas.

  14. Leo M. July 7, 2024

    I hope this attention compels the government to address outdated regulations.

  15. Nick S. July 7, 2024

    Alcohol restrictions in a tourism area? That’s like shooting yourself in the foot!

    • Kelly July 7, 2024

      But alcohol can also bring in issues. There’s a thin line to walk here.

  16. Hannah B. July 7, 2024

    I’m just glad Lisa is using her platform for something good. Go Lisa!

    • Tania L. July 7, 2024

      Totally! Artists have such a powerful impact these days.

  17. Ben July 7, 2024

    The idea of uplifting second-tier provinces is brilliant. Gives a more diverse experience for tourists.

  18. Sophia W. July 7, 2024

    I hope it’s not just hype. Real change takes more than just a celebrity endorsement.

    • Paul K. July 7, 2024

      You’re right, but it’s a step in the right direction.

  19. Zach July 7, 2024

    Sustainable tourism is the key here. We shouldn’t lose sight of that while riding the wave of Lisa’s fame.

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