Khao San hopes for Songkran boom

Khao San hopes for Songkran boom

Operators' confidence level is above 50% that festival will return

Foreigners and locals splash water during Songkran festivities last year on Khao San Road.
Foreigners and locals splash water during Songkran festivities last year on Khao San Road.

The Songkran festival is likely to return to Khao San Road this year as tourism operators are discussing possible events to lure visitors after the authorities prohibited water splashing last year.

Splashing occurred on the first day of Songkran last year on Khao San Road as tourists were unaware of the prohibition, with authorities enforcing the ban for the remainder of the festival.

Prasit Singdamrong, vice-president of the Khaosan Business Association, said the festival this year will most likely be held as usual and the association is working on the preparation, determining the most appropriate activities to entice more tourists.

"Our confidence level is above 50% for Songkran returning to normal this year. The issue is preparing safety measures, such as ensuring carrying capacity to avoid people getting crushed by crowds," said Mr Prasit.

He said tourism operators learned from successful crowd management during the Halloween festival last October, as the celebrations went smoothly despite a lot of tourists.

However, critical concerns remain about crimes and scams targeting tourists in the area, including taxis and tuk-tuks that overcharge foreigners, said Mr Prasit.

More scams on the famous walking street were reported recently as the number of tourists gradually picks up this year.

He said tourist police usually inspect the area around the clock on their shifts. They already have a watchlist of business operators and workers who have criminal records, said Mr Prasit.

For example, in one recent case that made headlines a nightclub security guard assaulted a tourist. The association urged the business to close for three days, he said.

In terms of tourism recovery, more than half of businesses in the area are operating as usual, particularly restaurants, pubs and nightclubs.

However, most small hotels and guesthouses have been struggling to reopen as they are not licensed and unable to access bank loans, said Mr Prasit.

He said post-pandemic Khao San Road welcomed guests of many nationalities, mostly from Europe, Australia, India, South Korea and Japan.

Cannabis-related businesses in the area are growing, with at least 50-60 certified vendors, said Mr Prasit, adding operators must follow strict measures to prevent usage by people under 20.

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