Craftsmen who make Chinese lanterns for a popular festival fear they will be put out of business after a crackdown on the items.
Manufacturers have been preparing for the renowned Yee Peng festival, which sees locals and tourists release the colourful paper lanterns every year in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand.
Traditionally, thousands of intricately decorated sky lanterns, or Khom Loy, are released at night with a burning wick inside, making for a spectacular sight.
However, officials have this year enforced a strict ban on the lanterns because of the number of fires they have been linked to.
Resident in the Mueang Sart community, where the colourful lanterns have been produced for more than 100 years, fear the new rules will put them out of business.
Jakkrit Saipanyoyai, the owner of Natthanicha Khom Lanna which is the oldest Khom Loy manufacturer in the community, said that he used to have orders of more than 10,000 Khom Loy a day but that has been reduced to zero.
He said: “Our community used to make a lot of money by producing and selling Khom Loy especially during the Yee Peng festival period. I was once receiving orders of 10,000 pieces a day.
“However, after the authority issued the prohibition notice to stop releasing Khom Loy the amount of order has been decreasing. The community lost a large amount of income, some of the shops have to shut down the business.
“The community has had to change to producing hanging lanterns instead, but they don’t get much attention from the tourists as they’re for decoration only.
“Not only has the community been affected by the ban, but the area generally is now producing less income due to the loss of tourists.
“I suggest that the local authorities should be reconsider the ban.”
Chiang Mai government chiefs have been enfocing a ban on the items this year ahead of the region’s Khom Loy sky lantern festival.