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Songkran

Smoke haze hits northern Songkran hotel bookings

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By Sakaorat Sirima, Nattawat Laping

The Northern smog crisis is taking its toll on the popular tourist region, with officials admitting a significant drop seen in hotel-room bookings, even in Chiang Mai, which is otherwise hugely popular as a destination for Songkran celebrations.

“Thai tourists are worried that the haze will harm their health,” La-iad Boonsrithong, the president of the Upper North Hotels Association, said yesterday.

“Normally, bookings for Songkran would be more than 85% of total occupancy in Chiang Mai by now. But because of the smog problem this year, the bookings are only 60%.”

Pakanan Vinijchai, head of the Tourism Authority of Thailand’ Chiang Mai Office, said 5% of Thai tourists had either cancelled their advance bookings or postponed their trip to Chiang Mai.“We believe they are closely monitoring the situation,” she said, adding that no foreigners have cancelled their advance bookings over the smog to date.

“But Chiang Mai’s main tourist-feeder during Songkran are Thais,” Pakanan said.

Meanwhile the national TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn admits that the smog problem would likely dent the tourism income of Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and other nearby provinces by 2 billion baht. Chiang Rai Industrial Council’s acting president Kitti Tissakul says the number of tourists in the province had dropped by between 10 and 20% because of smog.

SOURCE: The Nation

 

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