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Chiang Mai tourism faces chilly future

Domestic travellers have become the main target for operators in Chiang Mai while awaiting the return of international tourists.

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Every year, when the cold winds start to blow, the northern province becomes one of the busiest destinations.

But this year it could be a dismal season as Chiang Mai will miss out on international arrivals, with travel restrictions remaining strict into the kingdom.

Pakkanan Winijchai, director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand's Chiang Mai office, said the province has witnessed slow international demand since the Phuket boat accident in 2018 hit tourist confidence, particularly among Chinese guests who accounted for one-third of overall international arrivals.

Thailand is launching the special tourist visa, receiving requests from Chinese travellers who want to take long-stay trips in the country.

But Chiang Mai, like many provinces in Thailand, cannot directly benefit from this scheme, as there are no certified alternative local state quarantine hotels in the area at this moment.

The tourism industry here has to wait until guests complete quarantine in other provinces before visiting their destinations as a secondary choice.

While there was public outcry in some provinces in the South when it was named a primary destination for the first batch of tourists, Ms Pakkanan believes this would not happen in Chiang Mai.

"People would be glad to welcome tourists back again," she said.

The tourism industry will turn to domestic tourists by introducing events and promotions that will help draw visitors.

Anantorn Hochindarat, president of the Tourism Association of Chiang Mai, said tourists vanished during the lockdown in April.

Soon after the relaxation of restrictions, local guest levels were only 20% from the same period last year.

Only 35% of hotels have reopened, and the vast majority of tour agencies, bus services, souvenir stores, restaurants and spas remain closed, said Mr Anantorn.

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benefit : to get help or an advantage from something - ผลประโยชน์

chilly (adj.): cool enough to be unpleasant, but not really cold - เย็นชา

confidence : being certain of your abilities or of having trust in people, plans, or the future - ความมั่นใจ

demand : the amount of a product or service that people want - ความต้องการ

dismal : extremely bad - มืดมัว,ห่อเหี่ยว

glad : pleased; happy - ดีใจ, พอใจ

outcry : a strong expression of anger and disapproval about something, made by a group of people or by the public - การคัดค้านอย่างรุนแรง

quarantine (noun): a situation in which a person or animal that might have a disease is kept separate from other people or animals so that they do not catch the disease - การกักบริเวณ, การจำกัดบริเวณ

vanish : to disappear or stop being present or existing, especially in a sudden, surprising way - หายไป

visa : an official document or mark in your passport that allows you to enter or leave a country for a specific purpose or period of time - วีซ่า, เอกสารอนุมัติที่ประทับตราบนหนังสือเดินทาง


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