Chinese New Year arrivals unbowed

Chinese New Year arrivals unbowed

Decorations for the Chinese New Year celebration are seen along Yaowarat Road in Bangkok's Chinatown. (Photo by Varuth Hirunyatheb)
Decorations for the Chinese New Year celebration are seen along Yaowarat Road in Bangkok's Chinatown. (Photo by Varuth Hirunyatheb)

The haze that has shrouded parts of Bangkok and nearby provinces is unlikely to impede tourism, with foreign arrivals predicted to grow during the Chinese New Year festival, says the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

During the one-week holiday, from Feb 4 to 10, the TAT forecasts over 1 million foreign arrivals, up 8% from the previous year, generating 24 billion baht, an 11.5% gain.

TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn said big cities in many countries have similar pollution problems, with high figures on the index of PM2.5 dust. Thailand has adopted several measures to tackle the problem in recent weeks, including asking car owners to use public transport, while the owners of diesel-powered vehicles must have their cars thoroughly inspected.

The TAT has also sought cooperation from the private sector, including the Thai Transportation Operations Association, to help reduce toxic emissions by urging members to turn off their vehicle engines while waiting for tourists at airports or attractions, he said.

Furthermore, the agency has for years implemented the Seven Green Concepts to ensure tourists and stakeholders in the tourism industry help preserve the environment at all attractions.

The concepts include Green Heart, Green Logistics, Green Destinations, Green Communities, Green Activities, Green Service and Green Plus to encourage corporate social responsibility activities among companies.

Mr Yuthasak said he has urged the Health Department and the Pollution Control Department to release regular reports on the PM2.5 dust to counter any fake news that could affect the tourism industry.

Regarding the 1 million foreign arrivals, he said 330,000 are expected from China, a 4% rise from the last season, contributing about 10.2 billion baht in income, a 12% rise.

Domestic travel during the Chinese New Year holiday is also projected to be brisk, with more than 827,000 trips in Bangkok and 12 big cities nationwide, drawing more than 3.6 billion baht of tourism income.

The dozen destinations include Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Ayutthaya, Ratchaburi, Suphan Buri, Phetchaburi, Chon Buri, Nakhon Sawan, Nakhon Ratchasima, Udon Thani, Trang and Songkhla.

The week-long holiday will help bolster the hotel industry in these cities to an average occupancy rate of 81%, with Phuket the busiest at 88%.

The TAT is also organising Chinese New Year celebrations at several destinations such as in Bangkok at Siam Square (Feb 4-6) and Yaowarat Road on (Feb 5); Chiang Mai at Maya mall (Feb 5-6); and Phuket at Central Phuket Floresta (Feb 5-6).

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