By THE NATION
Surakit Saojai, the owner of a horse ranch in the province, said tourist numbers started dropping from the beginning of the year, affecting the income of some 100 horse-carriage ride providers, who have about 250 horses working in shifts.
“My ranch doesn’t just rent horses out to these operators, but also provides horse-riding lessons,” he said. “Owing to the drop in customers and the African horse sickness outbreak, I am able to rent fewer horses and am not able to sell any because the authorities have banned the inter-provincial movement of horses to prevent the disease from spreading. So far, I have lost up to Bt400,000 in income.”
Meanwhile, Somboon Yamonkaew, who provides horse-carriage rides in Lampang, said: “Since my earning from tourism has gone down to zero, I have had to start doing manual labour as well as selling horse manure as fertiliser at Bt20 per bag.”
Somboon said he used to earn up to Bt1,000 a day during high season.
Seksan Futemwong, who has been driving horse carriages since he was nine, said: “I have never seen such a slump in tourism in Lampang over the past 25 years. I used to earn between Bt500 and Bt600 on any given day, but now my income has dropped to zero.
“Me and my family have had to find other jobs to put food on our table as well as to feed the horses we own so we can return to providing carriage rides once the situation improves.”