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Hoteliers in Chiang Mai are saying that tourism in the north of Thailand is now in its worst place in ten years.
Booking for the next few months are 40% down on last year as Chinese and Middle Eastern customers reject Thailand for their holidays or simply stay home.
But the Tourism Authority of Thailand persist in putting a brave face on the gloom – they have come up with a “Green Card” that gives discounts and they predict a 10% RISE in Thai tourism.
Thai media reported La-iat Bungsrithong of the Northern Thai Hoteliers Association as saying that normally in the rainy season bookings would be at 70 to 80% of capacity.
But this year it is at 40%. Some 30% less Chinese people are showing up in Chiang Mai, she said. This is the worst it has been in the north in ten years.
Both small and large size hotels were struggling to stay afloat with a price war being waged to attract what tourists there are – rooms are being offered at 30-40% less than normal, she said.
As an example of a high end 5 star price cut she cited the Rati Lanna Riverside Spa Resort as offering rooms for 6,000 baht reduced from 10,000 baht.
On the plus side there were no signs of layoffs of staff – yet.
Oversupply was a factor in the downturn, she said, with an extra 10,000 rooms added over the last few years. Now there are just not the tourists to fill them and give investors a return.
Marketing manager at the Chiang Mai Orchid Hotel Watcharaporn Jongphaophan confirmed the bad news saying that bookings were 30% down and that rooms previously priced at 1,400 baht were now offered for 900 baht.
There is also a group tour package for 9 rooms for 8,888 baht, she said.
Meanwhile the TAT in the north have come up with a plan called the “Chiang Mai Green Card” (this refers to this part of the low season being called the ‘green season’ in the trade).
Available online the Green Card promises lots of discounts at participating establishments. Phakkanan Winitchai claimed that this initiative would boost tourism by 6.02% among Thais.
And she said that spending would be up 10%.
Vietjet were participating giving tourists 200 baht off – for the first 1,000 to apply.
TAT optimism is likely to be seen as clutching at straws by an industry growing increasingly apart from the claims made by the tourism authority, notes Thaivisa.
Hoteliers all over Thailand have been saying that the situation is dire in recent weeks. Stories of doom and gloom about tourism going down the pan in Pattaya and Phuket have been all over the media.
But the TAT and the Thai Ministry for Tourism and Sports continue to paint a rosier picture than what businesses – and ordinary tourists – are experiencing on the ground.