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Haze and coronavirus killing tourism in northern Thailand

Jack Burton

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PHOTO: Hazardous pollution levels and a China travel ban are hammering tourism in the north - Chiang Rai Times

It’s the smoke and Wuhan effect. Haze and the Novel Coronavirus are having a brutal effect on northern Thailand tourism. With numbers already low, China’s recent outward travel ban on tour groups coupled with dangerous haze levels are likely to hit tourism hard. Northern Thailand has a high proportion of Chinese tourists.

Residents of Nan province are concerned over the health hazard from the smog. At least one child care centre in Nan City has installed air purifiers to protect the children.

More than 80 hotspots have been reported in the province as farmland burning continues despite prohibitions on plantation burn-offs. The level of PM2.5 now averages 111 micrograms per cubic metre, more than double Thailands “safe” level of 50 micrograms (and four times the World Health Organisation’s upper limit of 25 micrograms).

PM2.5 levels in Chiang Mai are even worse, soaring to 313 micrograms yesterday. Authorities expect the situation to worsen as burning is still widespread and uncontrolled.

Because of the high levels, agencies have launched a public relations campaign to inform people of how to protect themselves and how to help curb the problem, and urging them to stop burning.

Health officials recommend those with respiratory problems and young children wear face masks to protect against both PM2.5 dust particles and viruses.

Haze and coronavirus killing tourism in northern Thailand | News by Thaiger

PHOTO: Chiang Mai Times

The Tourism Council of Thailand says the Wuhan Coronavirus outbreak has hit northern Thailand tourism industry hard, causing tour cancellations and suspensions of tour services with an estimated loss of over10 billion baht across Thailand.

Manop Saejia, the head of a tour guide association in Chiang Mai, says he’s concerned about the effectiveness of the quarantine system.

“About 40 percent of Chinese tourists in Chiang Mai travel in group tours while the rest are independent. These independent tourists could spread the deadly virus if strict quarantine measures are not in place.”

SOURCE: Chiang Rai Times

 

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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