PHUKET CITY: Despite many public events being canceled in respect of the passing away of HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana on January 2, the Tourism Authority of Thailand expects a 20% increase in the number of mainland Chinese celebrating the upcoming Chinese New Year in Phuket over last year.
The lunar-based Chinese New Year celebrations, this year marking the arrival of the Year of the Rat, is traditionally held over three days.
This year if falls February 7 to 10.
Suwalai Pinpradub, Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Southern Region 4 Office, told the Gazette that advance booking at hotels in Phuket City and at popular beaches indicate a rise of about 20% in the number of mainland Chinese arriving in Phuket on charter flights to celebrate the New Year, compared with last year.
She was unable to provide exact figures.
According to TAT statistics for 2007, from January 1 to March 31 a total of 49,511 mainland Chinese arrived in Phuket.
The expected increase in Chinese tourists this year is despite the cancellation of this year’s Old Phuket Festival, scheduled to annually coincide with Chinese New Year celebrations.
“We had arranged many big events because this year would have been the 10th Old Phuket Festival. We had invited more than 160 Chinese dancers to perform live. However, we have had to reschedule these activities for Chinese New Year next year,” she said.
“Thai-Chinese people can still honor their ancestors with traditional ceremonies; we have canceled only government-organized festivities,” she added.
Traditional red firecrackers will be allowed during the period, she said.
To take advantage of the many empty charter flights returning to China during the period, the TAT is helping tour companies organize three-day tours to China costing 9,000 baht, K. Suwalai added.
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