Muted Songkran predicted
Local tourism spending during the Songkran festival this year is forecast to remain lower than before the Covid-19 pandemic, generating around 11 billion baht as people are allowed to travel but water splashing is banned.
Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) governor Yuthasak Supasorn said 11 billion baht is expected from 3.34 million trips nationwide with an average occupancy of around 41% during April 13-17.
Overall tourism spending this year is expected to improve from last year, but is still far below normal years as the country is still battling a high number of Covid-19 cases, prompting the government to extend a stringent social distancing measure, particularly a prohibition on water splashing in all areas.
Most Thais are returning to their hometowns, while some travellers are more likely to choose nearby destinations within driving distance as they want to minimise expenses during the festival, said the TAT.
Of overall travellers, 34% said they will opt for a destination close to their home, while 32% plan to take inter-provincial trips, said the agency.
The Northeast, which usually sees a high number of returnees for Songkran each year, is poised to have 754,380 visitors generating 1.3 billion baht, followed by the central region, which should see 735,166 trips generating 1.4 billion baht, said the TAT.
The East, which is famous for seaside destinations close to Bangkok, is expected to draw 560,980 visitors and generate 2.3 billion baht.
Meanwhile, the southern provinces are estimated to have 445,399 domestic trips, but expenditure during the long holiday is the highest at around 2.78 billion baht.
Mr Yuthasak said even though water splashing and entertainment festivities are not allowed, the TAT is hosting traditional events in three destinations -- Bangkok, Ayutthaya and Songkhla -- that could generate 2.1 billion baht in tourism revenue from 568,580 participants.
However, Bangkok and Songkhla are projected to have low occupancy rates at 27% and 11%, respectively, as most travellers take one-day trips to reduce costs.
By province, Bangkok remains the most popular destination, mostly based on one-day trips, followed by Chon Buri, Nakhon Ratchasima, Phuket, Kanchanaburi, Phangnga, Ayutthaya, Udon Thani, Prachuap Khiri Khan and Nakhon Nayok.
The festival last year generated around 6 billion baht from 1.6 million domestic tourists.