– Thailand news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community
PHUKET: Travelers during the New Year holidays are expected to spend more than 13.1 billion baht, says the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).
That’s good news for the industry compared with last year, when the TAT was forced to cancel plans for many festive events because of the flood disaster.
Suraphon Svetasreni, governor of the authority, said it would organize activities and help stimulate tourism across the nation.
From December 29 to January 2, the TAT projects that tourists will be flocking into the provinces to celebrate. Their numbers are estimated at more than 2.36 million, with hotel occupancy at more than 70 per cent.
The northern region will be the top destination for tourists this year, thanks to its cooler climate and activities planned to lure tourists. Of the total projected revenue of 3.5 billion baht will be contributed in the north, followed by 3.2 billion each in Bangkok and the south, 1.6 billion in the central region, 1 billion in the east, and 600 million in the northeastern region of the country.
Tanongsak Somwong, president of the Tourism Association of Koh Samui, said this New Year festival was looking good for the island. Hotel occupancy has reached 80-85 per cent and will go as high as 95 per cent at some hotels during the period.
“It is better than 2011,” Tanong-sak said.
He said the recent power blackout had not hurt the island’s tourism image. It will be able to maintain its annual growth in tourist numbers at 15-20 per cent, and the New Year period is a big contributor to this growth.
Suraphon said the TAT would join in the “Miracle Thailand Countdown 2013”. Eight locations will be promoted: Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Pattaya, Khon Kaen, Hat Yai, and two in Phuket. The TAT hopes to promote it as international event in collaboration with countries worldwide.
Yutthachai Soonthronrattana-vate, president of the Association of Domestic Travel, said domestic tourism was very popular during the New Year period, making it difficult to get air tickets to major destinations.
Travel to other countries is booming as well, especially those nearby. Last month, 500,000-600,000 Thais traveled outside the Kingdom, according to immigration checkpoints, up by about half from normal periods. This month, November’s number is expected to increase by 15-20 per cent.
The growth comes from a low travel base last year, which was hit by the flood crisis, as people postponed their travel plans. However, travel is also becoming more attractive to a lot of Thais because of convenient service from transport providers and immigration, especially border countries.
— Phuket Gazette Editors