Operators express hope post-election
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Operators express hope post-election

Chiang Mai wants effort on PM2.5 dust

The atmosphere at Chiang Mai's Wua Lai Walking Street as tourists shop for local items. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)
The atmosphere at Chiang Mai's Wua Lai Walking Street as tourists shop for local items. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)

Chiang Mai and Phuket tourism operators hope the new government led by the Move Forward Party (MFP) can solve the PM2.5 dust crisis, work to decentralise power, and allocate budget for regional development and restoring tourism competitiveness.

La-iad Bungsrithong, board adviser for the Thai Hotels Association, said the election result reaffirms that Chiang Mai desires change.

She said the province didn't gain as many benefits as it should have from the government over the past eight years, particularly regarding air pollution as for long stretches Chiang Mai ranked as the worst in the world.

In addition, there was a delay in Covid-19 vaccine allotments, with Chiang Mai among the last to receive them despite being one of the major provinces in Thailand, said Mrs La-iad.

She said while MFP expressed a clear outline to sort out the smog problem, she hopes the issue will see cooperation from the entire ecosystem to fix the root causes, not merely dealing with the consequences by spraying artificial rain or arresting farmers who practise slash and burn methods.

Mrs La-iad said the new government should negotiate with neighbouring countries on a national scale and set annual targets with key performance indicators for related authorities.

If the air pollution subsides, it will eventually help the national economy, tourism industry and the quality of people's lives, she said.

In addition, a policy to decentralise government, including provincial governor elections, means the province can allocate budget for public projects that are truly in demand, such as public buses with quality services, which Chiang Mai still doesn't have, said Mrs La-iad. She said the proposal for public electric buses in every province would benefit tourism and help the environment.

Two of the parties forming a coalition government have called for raising the minimum wage, which Mrs La-iad said would affect operators' expenses somewhat as room rates in Chiang Mai are lower than in Phuket and Bangkok.

However, if a higher minimum wage can help the majority of society, tourism operators are ready to comply with a new rule, she said. The government should evaluate the outcome of a wage hike to ensure employers are not bearing too heavy a cost burden without state assistance, said Mrs La-iad.

Thaneth Tantipiriyakij, president of the Phuket Tourist Association, said increasing flight capacity to Phuket to the same level as 2019 should be the first priority for the new government, both in terms of inbound flights and domestic routes connecting major cities. He said the government should also push Thai Airways International to be more robust, flying to more destinations by using Phuket as a regional hub.

Mr Thaneth hopes the government will promote Phuket as the host for Specialized Expo 2028, with the final vote scheduled for next month. He said the project would improve Thailand's tourism image and attract tourists in the meetings and exhibitions as well as wellness segments.

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