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March 2020, the Thai month of cancellations

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PHOTO: The annual Songkran celebrations are under serious threat from the coronavirus

March will end up as the long month of cancellations. With Songkran looming, one of the busiest times for travel in Thailand, and increasingly one of the biggest annual tourist magnets to the Kingdom, cancelling Songkran would take Thailand into unchartered tourism and economic territory. Fears, real or imagined, are forcing companies and governments to assess their risks associated with the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak. But that’s what’s starting to happen.

But if the mega festivities and parties, big and small, aren’t cancelled soon, it will cause unnecessary expense and inconvenience with Songkran (the Thai New Year) only five weeks away. Around the country Thais traditionally head home for festivities and local celebrations with their families. For tourists it’s a popular pilgrimage where the water fights and parties have become a massive attraction in their own right.

The annual Thai splash-fest is a major generator of business for hotels, road transports companies, food & beverage services and airlines. This year the Songkran holiday runs, officially, from April 11-15 (but many workers will apply to take off the Friday before). Many of the festivities linger on for a few more days, principally in Pattaya and Chiang Mai.

Already officials have cancelled the annual Wan Lai Festival activities scheduled for April 16-17 in Saen Suk Municipality near Pattaya. It is sure to be just the first of many cancellations on the way.

Earlier this week the Moto GP, a growing and hugely popular international sporting event in Buriram, was postponed until another future date can be set.

Meanwhile, just today, the popular Koh Phangan Full Moon Party has been cancelled for March 8 with the Mayor saying there will be no other parties until the threats of the Covid-19 virus have passed.

And that’s only the tip as airlines start cancelling services amid growing international concerns and governments are spurred into actions that may end up restricting or complicating travel arrangements.

As Shakespeare wrote “Beware the Ides of March”. Just ask Julius Caesar.

 

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