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Tourism dries up for Songkran in north this year

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Tourism dries up for Songkran in north this year | The Thaiger
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The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) says tourism levels during the Songkran break will be down by 10%, partly due to the northern haze problems. Chiang Mai is one of the country’s most popular Songkran festival locations.

Meanwhile, the Thai Travel Agents Association (TTAA) says the strong baht is encouraging Thais to travel overseas during this year’s Songkran festival.

TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn said the haze problem is having a direct impact on tourism levels in the North during the Songkran festival from April 12 to 16. Tourists will drop by more than 10% compared to last year according to sources connected to the TAT.

But Yuthasak expects overall hotel occupancy rate in the northern region during Songkran to be around 75%. But 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%. Hotels in Mae Hong Son province may face the worst booking rate at under 30% forcing 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 baht,” he said.

The TAT predicts that the number of Thai tourists travelling during the Songkran festival at 3.11 million people, up by 3% and generating 5% revenue growth, amounting to 10.7 billion baht.

Some 546,000 foreign tourists are expected, an 8% increase, generating an increase in revenue of 14%, valued at 10.3 billion baht.

Most tourists visiting during the holiday season are predicted to be from nearby markets, such as ASEAN countries, China, Taiwan, and India, with the top three ASEAN tourists being from Singapore, increasing by 26%, Malaysia – 24% and Vietnam – 22%. Meanwhile, tourists from East Asian markets are also forecast to increase, with tourists from Hong Kong increasing by 26%, South Korea 14% and from Japan 5%.

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

They predict that during the four day Songkran break, up to 300,000 Thais would travel abroad.

SOURCE: The Nation

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Chiang Mai night markets reopening tomorrow

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Chiang Mai night markets reopening tomorrow | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Hotel.com

Night markets in Chiang Mai will be reopened tomorrow after the province went 6 consecutive days with no new Covid-19 cases.

According to Chiang Mai Governor, Charoenrit Sanguansat, the province and the provincial disease control committee agreed to ease up restrictions on social and business activities after the number of infections continually dropped and no new infections were reported during the past week.

As a result, flea markets, night markets, and walking streets across the province will be reopened tomorrow onwards.

However, the governor still reiterates that marketplaces and visitors must follow the disease control measures strictly.

Since the start of the second wave of Covid-19 in mid-December, Chiang Mai has tightened restrictions to prevent the virus spread in the province, with the order to close all markets and social activities for 14 days on January 6.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Environment

Thailand on fire – NASA satellite website tracks the country’s farm fires

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Thailand on fire – NASA satellite website tracks the country’s farm fires | The Thaiger

Thailand is burning. The burning off of harvested crop plantations is lighting up the agricultural areas. The truth is starkly revealed in the live NASA satellite feeds which track the fires around the world.

Thailand on fire - NASA satellite website tracks the country's farm fires | News by The Thaiger

CHART: Fires in the past 10 days around parts of Thailand – Firms.Modaps

Concentrations of the current fires can be seen in Central Thailand, north of Bangkok, parts of Isaan, north east of Bangkok, and around Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. Notably the concentration of fires in northern Cambodia and across the north-western border in Myanmar, is also causing plenty of problems as the foreign smoke drifts across the borders. No matter what Thai officials do to enforce the rice, sugar and corn plantation burn-offs, there is little they can do about the haze drifting across the borders.

Bangkok, so close to clusters of fires, is in for a bad air pollution day anytime the light winds of the start of the year blow from the north or the east. The lack of rain adds to the problem, the annual problem, that engulfs Thailand’s capital during days between December and April, with the worst month, statistically, being March.

The alternative method of preparing for the next harvest, mechanical removal of the refuse and waste after harvesting, is both unpopular in Thailand and economically unviable for the small farmers whose margins remain thin with the multi-national buyers of their produce pushing for lower and lower prices every year.

In Chiang Mai, from January to the end of March, the locals even call it the ‘burning season’. Coupled with the hot season, the farmers in northern Thailand burn their fields to prepare land for the next harvest and also to get rid of biowastes like corn that can’t be sold in the market. It’s officially illegal to do the burn offs but the lack of enforcement leaves the problem unresolved and the smog and haze remain as predictable as the annual wet season.

Chiang Mai also has a local geographic problem which exacerbates the bad smoke pollution. The city is in a valley, surrounded by hills, trapping in the smoke and helping block any breezes that could otherwise blow it away.

For today, Bangkok’s air pollution is better than the past two days but still registering as ‘unhealthy for sensitive groups’ with city readings mostly between 140 – 170. Parts of the city, mostly south-east and south west, were registering readings above 300 in the past few days.

Thailand on fire - NASA satellite website tracks the country's farm fires | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: IQair.com

Watch this video for some more information about Bangkok’s smog…

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Chiang Mai records 4 new Covid cases linked to same venue

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Chiang Mai records 4 new Covid cases linked to same venue | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook / Warmupcafe Chiangmai

The northern city of Chiang Mai has confirmed 4 new cases of coronavirus, all of which are linked to the Warm Up café in the Muang district. The province of Chiang Mai now has 11 active cases and has recorded 57 cases in total, according to deputy governor, Weerapan Dee-on.

“The 54th patient in Chiang Mai is a Thai man aged 23 from Sansai district. He displayed no symptoms. The 55th patient is another Thai man aged 28 from Muang district. He also showed no Covid-19 symptoms. The 56th patient is a Thai woman aged 28, who works in Bangkok but recently returned home to Sankamphaeng district. She had symptoms of coughing and a blocked nose. The 57th patient is another Thai woman aged 22 from Muang district. She displayed symptoms of coughing and tiredness.”

According to a Nation Thailand report, all 4 frequented the Warm Up café on New Year’s Eve.

Earlier this week, the province confirmed a 25 year old woman who’d been socialising at multiple entertainment venues had tested positive for the virus. At that stage, her infection brought the total number of cases detected in the province to 50. Following her positive diagnosis, officials embarked on a track and trace process, to determine who may have had contact with the patient. Through this, a 28 year old man who works at the Warm Up café also tested positive. On December 31, he worked from 3pm – 1am.

Officials have now tested 283 contacts who were at the venue that night and results are pending. All bars and other nightlife venues have been closed for 14 days by order of the provincial communicable disease committee. Deputy governor Weerapan says anyone else who was at the Warm Up café between December 31 and January 3 must come forward for testing.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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