By The Nation
The chamber also expects the new government to take office by September and forecasts this year’s GDP growth at 3.5 per cent.
Thanawat Phonwichai, director of the Economic and Business Forecasting Centre of the chamber, said that during Songkran, total spending was expected to be Bt135 billion compared to last year’s Bt132 billion, a 2.78 per cent increase.
He said that 87.2 per cent of those planning to travel will do so within the country, with average spending at Bt5,232 per person.
The remaining 12.8 per cent will go abroad, mostly to Japan, Singapore, Korea and Hong Kong.
He said the smog problem in the northern region would affect tourism, especially in Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Phayao provinces, causing tourism income to decline by Bt5 billion to Bt7 billion.
The top Songkran activity would be allowing elders to pour water on one’s heads, followed by parties, which is expected to increase from the past year. The politician most in demand to pour water on other people’s heads as part of the Songkran celebration ceremony is Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, followed by the leader of the Future Forward Party, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, who has overtaken Thaksin Shinawatra in the popularity stakes.
“We hope that economic growth in the country would continue to progress. According to our forecast, if the new government is established by September, the new prime minister will be able to push for an annual GDP growth of 3.5 per cent.
“Meanwhile, if the GDP growth does not reach 3.5 per cent, it could be due to political unrest and the ongoing US-China trade war,” Thanawat said.
Meanwhile, Kasikorn Research Centre estimated that increased travel by both Thai and foreign tourists during the Songkran festival (April 11 to 17), will generate Bt28 billion in revenue for the tourism and related sectors, an increase of 2.2 per cent year on year.
Of the total estimated revenue, Bt12.2 billion is expected to come from Thais travelling within the Kingdom and Bt15.8 billion will be generated by foreign tourists visiting the country during the festival.
The bank’s research centre said various factors would affect the tourism industry, which will need to be monitored, such as whether it would be possible to extend the free visa-on-arrival scheme, which will end on April 30. Another issue is the global economic slowdown, which decreases the purchasing power of foreign tourists visiting Thailand.
The research centre has predicted that the number of tourists visiting Thailand throughout 2019 is likely to be more than 39 million.
The Ministry of Tourism and Sports reported that during the first two months of the year, the number of foreign tourists visiting Thailand grew 2.5 per cent year on year, totalling 7.29 million people.