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TAT predicts Songkran boost after protest doldrums

THE TOURISM AUTHORITY of Thailand (TAT) projects that despite the political tension, tourism spending during the Songkran Festival will grow by 5.3 per cent to Bt4.3 billion in the 13 provinces in which it is holding promotions.

The festival period runs this year from April 6-20. The TAT will spend about Bt20 million to organise and enhance the festival in 13 key provinces, especially creating a cultural theme to maintain Songkran's traditional roots while at the same time making it enjoyable.

Vilaiwan Twichasri, TAT's deputy governor for tourism products, believes the political problem will not stop people going out to celebrate, so Songkran-driven tourism will keep growing. She expects 1.48 million tourists in the 13 key provinces will join the fun. About 1.3 million of them will be Thais, an increase of 3-5 per cent year on year, while the number of foreign tourists will grow by 1.2 per cent to about 100,000.

The 13 provinces included in its promotion are Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Sukhothai, Chon Buri, Suphan Buri, Ayutthaya, Nakhon Phanom, Khon Kaen, Nong Khai, Hat Yai, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Phuket and Samut Prakan. Four of them - Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen and Chon Buri - are expected to welcome more than 200,000 people each. They will offer various kinds of events from those just providing a lot of fun to culturally themed activities.

Chotechuang Soorangura, assistant managing director of NS Travel and Tours Co, said the scenario for tourism was starting to look more promising after being hit by the prolonged political turmoil concentrated in Bangkok.


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