Domestic, regional tourists are the stars of Songkran, tourism executives say
Domestic tourists will account for the lion’s share of tourists during Songkran, while most foreign tourists will be from countries in the region, tourism association leaders said.
Phuket Tourist Association president Thaneth Tantipiriyakij told The Nation that most visitors to the island province during the festival will be either Thai or from countries in the region.
“The association is focusing on travellers from inside the nation and from other Asian countries, except China, where tourism has not yet recovered,” Thaneth said.
“European travellers are not our primary market during this Songkran period because they normally come to Thailand in the winter to escape the cold,” he added.
Thaneth said he expects that 40% of all tourists visiting Phuket this year will be Thai, up from 30% in 2019, the year before the pandemic.
The number of tourists visiting Phuket this year is expected to exceed 50% of the number in 2019 and they will generate about 70% of the revenue attained that year because Phuket is attracting high spenders, he said.
Vasumon Netkijcharoen, president of the Isaan Tourism Industry Trade Association, said about 90% of visitors to provinces in the Northeast, known in Thai as Isaan, are returning home.
The summer months do not bring many tourists to Isaan, Vasumon said.
“If we look at the other 10% who are travellers, we find that 95% of them would travel by car, and tour groups are infrequent,” she said, adding that many residents of Isaan travel within the region.
She said it was untrue that foreign tourists are not interested in Isaan, saying they are showing interest in the region’s traditions and culture.
The association has succeeded in attracting tourists from new markets, including Singapore, Malaysia and China, she said, adding that the 200,000 visitors expected for Songkran are expected to spend as much as 400 million baht in Isaan during Songkran.
Panlop Sae-Jew, president of the Tourism Council of Chiang Mai, expects most visitors for Songkran to be Thai or from other countries in Asia. The more than 1,000 kilometer highway linking Kunming to Bangkok, R34, is drawing more Chinese tourists by car or bus, Panlop said.
He said that he expects tourists to spend up to 100 million baht in Chiang Mai during Songkran.
The three association leaders agreed that the next government should focus "environmental issues" to help the tourism industry.
The next government should encourage businesses to operate sustainably by promoting the use of clean energy and waste management, Thaneth said.
He said that Phuket Tourist Association has joined hands with its partners to reduce waste and carbon emissions in Phuket.
Vasumon said she hoped the next government will raise awareness of environmental issues among business leaders in Isaan.
Panlop said that the next government needs to address the air-pollution crisis in Chiang Mai.