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Chiang Mai tourism slowdown takes a toll on local businesses

Caitlin Ashworth

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Chiang Mai tourism slowdown takes a toll on local businesses | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons
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Chiang Mai’s tourism industry has drastically slowed down from the lack of travel due to the affects of the Covid-19 pandemic – the lockdowns and the travel restrictions. Tourists “vanished” during the April lockdown, according to president of the Tourism Association of Chiang Mai, Anantorn Hochindarat. Now, as the chilly, cool season approaches, when the northern province is the most popular for locals, Chiang Mai’s tourism sector is likely to remain “slow”.

The impacts from reaction to the pandemic has effected various people and business groups in Chiang Mai. Only 35% of the hotels have reopened, and those that are open report lower occupancy rates, Anantorn says. Many tourism businesses like spas, souvenir shops and tour agencies remain closed. The drivers of the red trucks, known as songthaews, used to do 3 to 4 round trips per day. Now only 1 trip per day is the average, and that’s with some drivers taking temporary leave.

“Over 1,000 tour guides are unemployed, while dozens of hotels have been put on sale after owners faced a liquidity crisis.”

Last year, Chiang Mai recorded 100 billion baht in revenue from 10.8 million visitors. 70% of the visitors where Thais while the other 30% were foreigners. After domestic travel restrictions were lifted, local travellers were only 20% from the same period last year. There have been travel promotions and events to help boost domestic tourism across Thailand, but some Thai nationals are still hesitant to travel because of health safety concerns.

“As the international market is stalled, if Chiang Mai can simply get the same chunk of the domestic market back within a year, typically 70% of the total, we should be happy enough.”

Apparently the slowdown of international tourists has been happening before the pandemic. After the 2018 Phuket incident where 2 tourists boats capsized in a storm, killing 46 people, tourist confidence was “shattered,” according to the director of Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Chiang Mai office, Pakkanan Winijchai. The Phuket tourist boats were carrying Chinese tourists, and many Chinese lost confidence in Thailand, she says. Chinese visitors make up one-third of overall international arrivals.

For the past 6 months, there has been a ban on international tourists, crippling travel destinations that relied on the foreigners for income. Thailand has been working on a way to get tourists in, but even the new Special Tourist Visa was a bust when authorities said they were preparing for a group of tourists from China to arrive in Phuket, but no one had actually applied for the visa. Even if the scheme does start up soon, Chiang Mai cannot benefit because it does not have any alternative state quarantine facilities to house the tourists for their mandatory 14 day quarantine upon arrival.

SOURCES: Bangkok Post | Wikapedia

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9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Mike

    October 14, 2020 at 10:48 am

    Talk about stating the obvious, but I suppose it may as well be said. Of course Chiang Mai is suffering since it’s a one of the main tourist destinations. It’s very sad news.

    What isn’t sad news is that the red sawngtaew cartel is also suffering. I hope with all my heart that they disappear forever.

  2. Avatar

    Geoff

    October 14, 2020 at 10:55 am

    “no one had actually applied for the visa”! Wow! So much for the comments about arrivals etc. All rubbish by incompetent officials.

  3. Avatar

    EdwardV

    October 14, 2020 at 11:09 am

    From the linked article: “ Chinese tourists who mostly stay in condos or rental houses owned by Chinese investors.” – and yet Thailand caters to the Chinese tourist. The group who invented zero dollar tourism.

    • Avatar

      saidit

      October 14, 2020 at 3:24 pm

      Where do you stay?

      • Avatar

        EdwardV

        October 14, 2020 at 7:13 pm

        The last few times I’ve stayed at the Le Méridien Chiang Mai hotel. I like Chiang Mai, although I’ve only visited 4-5 times. I spend most of my time further south.

  4. Avatar

    Pompies

    October 14, 2020 at 11:47 am

    The Tourism Authority as usual can find a series of excuses, but I want to know what it has ever done to effectively promote Chiang Mai because I have seen precious little in the last decade. The current situation affects the whole of Thailand and by the time the authorities have removed their restrictions there will be little tourism infrastructure left. Which is precisely what they want because their avowed intention is to move Thailand up-market, and only the well financed facilities owned by their big business buddies will remain. Tragically the unemployment situation will be disastrous but those who have lost their employment and businesses will use their anger to vote against any party aligned by the so-called elected government, and we will be back to political anarchy.

  5. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    October 14, 2020 at 3:53 pm

    Tragic over a 1000 tour guides unemployed.
    Well luck is with you. Change Mai is surrounded by agriculture. Put you grandfather’s straw hat on and out you go working in the rice paddys.
    Not well paid, but healthy and good exercise.
    Of course you will have to have the Lao, Burmese, and Cambodian labourers fired and sent home.
    Unfortunate, but during these difficult times, Thais need the B300 a day they earned.
    You know it makes sense.

  6. Avatar

    West tiger

    October 15, 2020 at 12:54 am

    All the while the government ignores the obvious solutionthings will not get any better

  7. Avatar

    James

    October 15, 2020 at 1:55 am

    Foreign tourism to Chiang Mai has been in decline for a long time now over the years, the facilities in Phuket which have improved are far superior to run down Chiang Mai, I think the boat accident in Phuket has not affected tourism to Chian Mai as it had not affected the number going to Phuket before the virus situation.

    I know quite a few people living in Chiang Mai and they will all be leaving soon to go south in order to avoid the dense smoke from the farmers’ fields which will choke the city for the next four months after it starts.

    I can never understand some logic in Thailand, they say the boat accident in Phuket has affected tourism in Chiang Mai, what has affected tourism in Chiang Mai is the city is now run down and has been left behind by modern Phuket and other places plus the smoke drives everyone away each year, why don’t they solve that problem?

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Read more headlines, reports & breaking news in Chiang Mai. Or catch up on your Thailand news.

Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

Tourism

Koh Pha Ngan and Chiang Mai win gongs in the latest Condé Nast Traveler Awards

The Thaiger

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Koh Pha Ngan and Chiang Mai win gongs in the latest Condé Nast Traveler Awards | The Thaiger

Koh Pha Ngan, a short ferry ride from Koh Samui off the coast of mainland Surat Thani, is the ‘third best island in Asia’, according to a vote in the readers’ choice awards by Conde Nast Traveler. Thailand also ranked in 7th place in the ‘Top 20 Countries in the World list.

Topping the ‘Best Asian islands’ list were Cebu & Visayas, Philippines and Sri Lanka. Koh Pha Ngan, at 3rd place, is the home of Rin Nok beach where party-going tourists gather for the monthly full moon parties. But they’ve been shut down since April when Thailand shut its borders. Two other Philippine islands – and Siargao and Palawan – made up the top 5.

But Surat Thani’s governor Wichawut Jinto maintains there is more to Koh Pha Ngan than its full moon parties.

“The island boasts a blend of nightlife and beautiful natural scenery. The beach is a perfect cove flanked by mountains.”

“Koh Phangan also has other beautiful beaches such as Thong Nai Pan, Khuad and Yao beaches. Apart from the beaches, Than Sadet waterfall is also a landmark attraction.”

In other Condé Nast Traveler Awards, Chiang Mai was placed 2nd on the ‘Top 10 Best Small Cities’. Who was number 1? San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Bangkok, often a contender in the Best Big Cities Awards, didn’t even figure in the Top 10 on the Condé Nast list this year. Kyoto, Japan, scored top spot in the Big City list this time.

Koh Pha Ngan and Chiang Mai win gongs in the latest Condé Nast Traveler Awards | News by The Thaiger

Of course the TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn, seized the opportunity.

“We are always proud to see Thailand on this list, but in this challenging year when the Covid-19 restrictions are affecting international travel, it is indeed a very special honour.”

“We would like to extend our sincerest appreciation to the readers of Condé Nast Traveler as well as travellers from across the globe for their confidence in Thailand. When all difficulties from the Covid-19 pandemic have improved, Thailand will certainly be more than ready to welcome international tourists once again.”

But this year’s Condé Nast Traveller Awards were announced at a time when much of the world isn’t travelling. The magazine says the names in this year’s edition were the ones that “brought voters comfort”, that they “still connected with” long afterward and got them through the months without travel.

“These are the enduring gems that can withstand the test of time and the vicissitudes of circumstances. So while it is always an honour to be on this list, in this strangest of years, it is a special honour, indeed.”

“Many readers have told us that when we emerge from this pandemic, they want to turn their attention to the classics, whether that means personal favourites or places they know have brought joy to others.”

For more information on Condé Nast Traveller’s Readers’ Choice Awards 2020, check the full list HERE.

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Protests

Human rights lawyer Anon Nampa arrested, flown to Chiang Mai for sedition charges

Caitlin Ashworth

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Human rights lawyer Anon Nampa arrested, flown to Chiang Mai for sedition charges | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Anon Nampa at an event in Chiang Mai - Will Langston

After being arrested in Bangkok early this morning, along with numerous other protesters, human rights lawyer and pro-democracy activist leader Anon Nampa is apparently being flown up to Chiang Mai to face sedition charges for allegedly criticising the Thai Monarchy at a past event in the northern province.

In Bangkok today, at least 20 protesters, who intended to camp out at the Government House for a few days to put pressure on PM Prayut Chan-o-cha to resign, were arrested after the State of Emergency was imposed early this morning.

Following his arrest, Anon wrote on Facebook saying that he had been denied a lawyer, a violation of his human rights. Thisrupt shared the post by Anon saying police had forced him in a helicopter to Chiang Mai and that he fears for his safety.

The activist’s Facebook page was later deactivated. Journalist Andrew MacGregor Marshall posted on Twitter saying the situation is “extremely worrying.”

“The Facebook page of protest leader อานนท์ นำภา aka Anon Nampha has been deactivated. He was arrested earlier today and taken to Chiang Mai. He is denied access to lawyers under the new emergency decree. This is extremely worrying.”

PHOTO ABOVE: With thanks to Will Langston

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Crime

Chiang Mai woman arrested for allegedly hiring hitman to kill her ex-husband

Caitlin Ashworth

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Chiang Mai woman arrested for allegedly hiring hitman to kill her ex-husband | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Amarin TV

A 63 year old Chiang Mai woman has been arrested for allegedly hiring a hitman to kill her ex-husband because she wanted his life insurance payout. Bualoi Tala is also being investigated for her alleged involvement in other possible murders after a number of people died after being poisoned and Bualoi received payouts from their life insurance policies.

Police say that 58 year old Anan Thongmarn, Bualoi’s ex-husband, was killed last week. His neck and face had been slashed. The alleged hitman, 48 year old Pankaew KhanKaew, has confessed to the murder, according to police. Phone records trace back to Bualoi, and police say they believe the woman hired a hitman to kill her ex-husband so she could claim the death benefit in the insurance policy valued at hundreds of thousands of baht, according to the Nation Thailand.

Bualoi told police she didn’t want her ex-husband to die, she just wanted him to be hurt really bad. She told police she offered PanKaew 40,000 baht to kill her ex-husband was just a “joke,” she just wanted him to maim her husband.

Police are investigating 6 other possible homicide cases where Bualoi was listed as a beneficiary for the deceased mens’ life insurance policies. Police say the victims were all poisoned and Bualoi received life insurance benefits following their deaths.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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