Songkran expected to boost Thailand’s economy with billions

Picture courtesy of Thairath

The Songkran festival in Thailand this year is anticipated to bring between 140 and 200 billion baht into the country’s economy. The festival, which has been recognised as an Intangible Cultural Heritage event by Unesco, is predicted to attract 10 million international visitors who will contribute 11.8 billion baht to the total spending.

In light of the festival’s recognition, the government, led by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, has extended the celebration to 21 days in a bid to stimulate tourism and economic spending.

Despite these forecasts, Thanavath Phonvichai, advisory chairman of the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce’s (UTCC) Centre for Economic and Business Forecasting, suggests that domestic spending growth may be slower. He indicated that while the Songkran holiday is predicted to stimulate economic growth by 2.9% with an estimated spending of 129 billion baht (US$3.5 billion) by Thais, the 2019 domestic spending record of 13.5 billion baht (US$368 million) is unlikely to be surpassed.

Thanavath attributes this to the uneven economic growth across the country, particularly in the provincial areas, and the cautious spending habits of the Thai people. The projected circulation of 140 to 200 billion baht (US$3.8 and 5.5 billion), including the 11.8 billion baht (US$322 million) from international tourists, may not significantly alter these trends.

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Government spokesman Chai Wacharonke revealed data from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and Immigration Bureau, which showed a 146.21% increase in foreign visitor numbers from the same period last year, with 10.4 million visitors entering the country from January 1 to April 9. The majority of these tourists hail from China, Malaysia, Russia, South Korea, and India.

The TAT expects that the spending of domestic and foreign tourists during the Songkran festival will generate at least 100 billion baht (US$ 2.7 billion) in revenue for the country. The Aeronautical Radio of Thailand also anticipates high traffic during the festival period, with an expected operation of 16,307 flights from April 11 to 17, reported Bangkok Post.

Chai credits the influx of over 10 million tourists to the prime minister’s initiative of visa exemption measures and streamlined immigration processes. The government’s efforts to position the country as a global tourism hub are also said to contribute to the high tourist turnout.

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