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Songklha welcomes more Malaysian tourists after Thailand pass scrapped

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Malaysian tourists in Songkhla, photo by Nation Thailand.

Thailand’s southern province of Songklha has welcomed about 5,000 Malaysian tourists who drove across the border today. Before Thailand Pass was scrapped today, the number of people crossing Sadao checkpoint each day had been averaging 1,000-1,500. Now, the president of Hat Yai Songkhla Hotels Association says hoteliers expect to see 150,000 tourists from Malaysia in July.

The president, Sitthiphong Sitthiphatprapha, said the arrivals are eager to taste Songkhla’s local cuisine and see its sites. He said operators are therefore confident that Songkhla has a busy tourist-filled weekend coming up. Sitthiphong said he felt confident that there will not be major issues with Malaysian and Singaporean tourists returning, now that Thailand Pass is no more.

This news comes after Thai tourism officials announced that Malaysia is set to replace India as the tourist king of Thailand. Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said last week that once Thailand Pass is gone, a larger number of Malaysian tourists than Indians was expected to make their way to the ‘Land of Smiles’.

Indians have so far made up Thailand’s biggest tourist group this year, with 100,884 arriving between January 1 and May 24. But earlier this month, Malaysians flooded into Phuket. Daily AirAsia flights from Kuala Lumpur to Phuket were fully booked. Several other cities were also popular for Malaysian tourists, including Songkhla’s city of Hat Yai.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand says 78,523 Malaysian visitors entered the kingdom in the first 5 months of the year. Most travellers, however, were day traders, and not tourists.

But Minister Phiphat noted that factors drawing foreign tourists to Thailand are the weakening of the Thai baht against the US dollar, the relatively low cost of living, and reasonable hotel room rates.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

 

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A Thai-American dual citizen, Tara has reported news and spoken on a number of human rights and cultural news issues in Thailand. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history from The College of Wooster. She interned at Southeast Asia Globe, and has written for a number of outlets. Tara reports on a range of Thailand news issues.

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