Thailand: Number of tourists forecast to drop 10 pct during Songkran hinh anh 1The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has forecast that the number of tourists during this year’s Songkran festival from April 12-16 will drop by 10 percent partly due to the northern haze problems (Photo: thainews.prd.go.th)

 

Bangkok (VNA) - The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has forecast that the number of tourists during this year’s Songkran festival from April 12-16 will drop by 10 percent partly due to the northern haze problems. 

TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn said tourist groups are expected to adjust their travel plans and choose to travel to other areas in Thailand instead. 

He expected overall hotel occupancy rate in the northern region during Songkran to be around 75 percent. Hotels in areas affected by wildfires, such as Mae Rim, Chiang Dao and Fang districts of Chiang Mai province may have reservation rates under 50 percent. Hotels in Mae Hong Son province may face the worst booking rate at under 30 percent, making some hotels opt to close down for renovations. 

Due to the fallout from the downturn in the three northern provinces of Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Mae Hong Son, TAT expects tourism revenue during this year’s Songkran to reduce by 2 billion THB, Yuthasak said.

Previously, the TAT has predicted that the number of Thai tourists travelling during the Songkran festival at 3.11 million people and some 546,000 foreign visitors, generating a 10 percent increase in revenue, valued at 20.98 billion THB. 

President of the Thai Hotel Association (THA) Supawan Tanomkieatipume said that the rate of hotel bookings throughout the country during Songkran was not good yet. 

At present, Chiang Mai has only a 60 percent reservation level after being affected by haze problems. Bangkok and Pattaya have similar bookings at 60 percent. The southern region has 70-80 percent bookings. 

A key cause of the low reservation rate is the global economic slowdown, which has yet to recover, she said. 

Vichit Prakobgosol, President of the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA), said that although the level of bookings of foreign tourists this Songkran was not comparable with last year, the reduction of tourist figures this year was not drastic. Due to the smog problem in the northern region, Chinese tourists, who usually visit Chiang Mai in large numbers during Songkran, may change their travel destinations to other countries such as Japan, Vietnam, Philippines and Indonesia. 

On the other hand, the appreciation of the baht will lead to more Thais travelling abroad during Songkran, Yuthasak said. 

Airports of Thailand Plc (AOT) reported that during this year’s Songkran period, an average of 40,000 Thais would travel abroad every day. 

As this year has two consecutive holidays – Chakri Memorial Day and the Songkran break – Thai people are more likely to make plans to travel for up to 10 days from April 6 to 15. This long holiday season makes Japan the most popular destination for Thais, followed by Europe. 

During this period, up to 300,000 Thai people are expected to travel abroad, with a total spending of 9 billion THB.

Songkran is Thailand’s most famous festival. An important event on the Buddhist calendar, this water festival marks the beginning of the traditional Thai New Year. The name Songkran comes from a Sanskrit word meaning ‘passing’ or ‘approaching’.-VNA

VNA