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Thousands laid off, millions of baht lost as Chiang Mai elephant camps close



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Elephant businesses in Chiang Mai and elsewhere in Northern Thailand are being wiped out in their dozens by the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak. Most have closed their doors and laid off thousands of staff. Those that remain open are haemorrhaging money.

According to Boonthachai Lert, chairman of Mae Taeng Elephant Camp and a spokesperson for the industry, 85 of Chiang Mai’s 94 camps and parks have shut down. He says that if things don’t change in the next month, he’ll have no choice but to close his business too. According to Chiang Mai One, the current estimated loss due to the closures across the industry is about 6 billion baht.

Chiang Mai News spoke to Bantha Chailert, owner of  Mae Tong Elephant Park, who says his business, like all others that relied on Chinese tourists, has been decimated. Damage to his business runs to 3-5 million baht and for the industry as a whole it is much worse.

“We used to have 1,000 tourists a day. Now there are 50 Thais or Europeans. Break even would be 400.”

Thousands laid off, millions of baht lost as Chiang Mai elephant camps close | News by Thaiger

Chiang Mai’s mayor says the annual Songkran festival, which normally attracts huge crowds, is completely suspended. However there will still  be Lanna-style decourations in urban areas, and exhibitions of traditional lifestyles at the ancient Tha Phae gate and the Three Kings Monument.

“For the safety of people and tourists, we [must] cancel any activities that would attract crowds of people.”

SOURCES: thaivisa | Chiang Mai News |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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