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Madame Tussauds, a first step in Thailand for Merlin Entertainments Group

Luc Citrinot, eTN  Mar 05, 2011

BANGKOK (eTN) - Early this week, the first Madame Tussaud's Museum in Southeast Asia was officially inaugurated in Bangkok. Thailand's high society was part of the celebration, which also saw Bangkok's Metropolitan Authority Governor, Mr. Sukhumbhand Paribatra, officially declare the museum opened to the public (it has, in fact, been in operation since December 4). Bangkok's Governor stressed that Madame Tussaud's presence in Bangkok was a sign of the confidence of international investors to the fact that Bangkok remains one of Southeast Asia's most attractive metropolis for tourists.

The museum is indeed interesting for both Thai and foreign travelers. Thai will be happy to enjoy being photographed next to Barack Obama or Michael Jackson. And foreigners will discover some of the most famous Thai personalities including singers, actors, and politicians. Mentioning politicians, it is curious to see that contorversial Thai military dictator Pibulsongram was in prominent position in the gallery of politicians. The Field Marshall was, in fact, the one who allowed Japan to go through Thailand to invade Malaysia and Singapore during World War II and was put on trial by allies in 1947 for war crimes, mainly for collaboration.

Also prominent for his absence is certainly Thailand's most controversial figure in contemporary history. Ex-Prime Minister and fugitive, Thaksin Shinawatra, has been denied the right to be back in Bangkok, even as a wax figure!

Numbers visiting Madame Tussaud's since its opening are slightly behind expectations according to Paul Williams, General Manager of the Bangkok branch. At THB700 (US$23.50), the price is not that cheap for most Thai people. However, most Thai benefit from discounted prices, generally by 50%. Madame Tussaud's Bangkok hopes to still achieve its target of 500,000 visitors by the end of the year, with customers being mainly in the age range of 16 to 35.

Merlin Entertainments Group remains committed to further develop its presence in Bangkok. The group wants to open two more attractions over the next few years. Each attraction will then request an initial investment of THB400 to 500 million.

Madame Tussauds, a first step in Thailand for Merlin Entertainments Group
Thai actors from the sixties greet visitors at Madame Tussaud's in Bangkok / Photo by Luc Citrinot

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