Long weekend sees spike in tourists
Popular tourist destinations were teeming with holidaymakers over the four-day long weekend, giving the ailing tourism industry some hope of recovery.
The four-day long weekend officially began on Friday. The cabinet approved Friday and Monday as substitute Songkran holidays.
In Pattaya, the Walking Street along Beach Road was packed with domestic tourists who spent two to three nights at the resort city, taking advantage of the 40% subsidy for hotel bills under the government's tourism stimulus programme.
The beach was once again filled with families having picnics in the afternoon, while bars and other entertainment venues quickly filled up with patrons as night fell. Local business operators said the hustle and bustle was a welcome reprieve after months of quiet trading due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Upon entering premises, visitors were subject to thorough health screening and visitors were asked to put on their face masks and use hand sanitiser before they were allowed in.
In Trat, more than 23,000 visitors flocked to the popular resort island of Koh Chang on Friday and Saturday, when the long weekend commenced, according to tambon Koh Chan officials.
Deputy mayor of Koh Chang municipality, Theerasak Suamcheepmasua, said the first two days of the holiday saw traffic backed up at piers which serve the resort island.
On Friday, 14,010 people and 2,352 vehicles entered Koh Chang through its two piers, and a tailback stretching three kilometres was reported at the busiest mainland pier. On Saturday, the numbers dropped to 9,887 people and 1,797 vehicles.
Municipality officials worked with the police, navy and local volunteer groups to help direct traffic and ease congestion around the island's pier as some visitors began their journey home on Sunday.
Mr Theerasak said a long queue is expected today as more tourists are expected to leave by the end of the day.
The heavy traffic will need about 10 hours to ease, and all five ferries serving the island's two piers will be operated to clear the backlog.
Mr Theerasak suggested motorist access the Line page for Koh Chang tourism office for live updates of the traffic situation on the island and on the mainland.
Meanwhile, in Phetchabun, visitors overwhelmed the camping ground at Thung Salaeng Luang National Park in tambon Khao Khor over the long weekend.
Local authorities said the designated camping area was overrun by hopeful campers, prompting park officials to limit the number of tents to 400 to comply with the government's disease control measures.
Panya Chanma, a park ranger, said the office needed to enforce the rules to prevent an outbreak of the virus and ensure there is sufficient capacity to serve the visitors.
He added most visitors spend between one and two nights camping.
In Khon Kaen, Phra That Kham Kaen attracted throngs of visitors who came to pay their respects to Buddha's relics in Nam Phong district.
Temples and other places of religious significance in other provinces in the Northeast also pulled in crowds.
According to the Transport Ministry, 2.51 million people used public transport to travel on Thursday when the holiday exodus began, about 10% less than the ministry has estimated.
Altogether, 3.09 million vehicles headed to and out of Bangkok that day, of which 2.8 million were private cars.
The number of motorists using private cars to get to their holiday destinations was 34% higher than estimated, the ministry said.
The ministry added the reason fewer people used public transport at the start of the long weekend was because some preferred to stay at home while others opted to take their own cars to limit person-to-person contact.
It said it has also set up 121 roadside assistance checkpoints along main roads to assist motorists.