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TAT sees only small growth in Songkran visitors



PHUKET: The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) estimates that only 2.1 per cent more foreign tourists are coming to Thailand to celebrate Songkran this week compared to last year.

“It seems that overall tourism during Songkran this year will likely not be as bustling. This could be due to the economic decline, which is a major cause for many people reducing the amount they travel,” Somrak Kumputch, TAT Deputy Governor said yesterday.

China is now the largest source of festival-goers, so Tourist Police are staying alert for travellers from that country.

Mr Somrak said more than 2.1 million foreign tourists would celebrate Songkran from April 13-17 and that they would spend 6.9 billion baht while here, which is up 3.5 per cent from last year.

The Thai Hotels Association has reported that arrivals might not peak this month despite the grand festivities. Additionally, many in-bounders cannot secure seats, as more Thais are going abroad.

Nitinai Sirismatthakarn, president of Airports of Thailand Plc, said that 3.9 million passengers would pass through its six international airports – Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Mae Fah Luang Chiang Rai, and Hat Yai.

The six airports would handle 16 per cent more travellers from April 8-18, or a total of 361,837 per day. Flights through AOT’s airports are expected to increase 10 per cent to 24,227.

To provide assistance and convenience to holidaymakers, Tourist Police have called all personnel to be on alert during the festival, particularly for Chinese, who are expected to flock to the country this month.

Pol Maj-General Surachet Hakphan, commander of the Tourist Police, said more than 30,000 Chinese would travel to Thailand per day from April 11-17, or more than 200,000 during the seven-day period.

He has ordered his officers at all major destinations across the country to closely monitor tourist venues. The major provinces and cities getting extra attention are Phuket, Chiang Mai, Hat Yai, Udon Thani, Koh Samui and Pattaya.

However, there’s no report of international crimes plotted against the country at this time, Gen Surachet confirmed.

— The Nation


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