TAT sees uptick in festive spending

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TAT sees uptick in festive spending

A man examines lanterns and auspicious items on sale at a store in Bangkok’s Chinatown, ahead of Chinese New Year.

Tourism revenue during the Chinese New Year is poised for a slight increase to 1.9 billion baht as the soaring prices of consumer products, fuel and household debt hammer domestic consumption, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

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Without long holidays to support demand this year, the number of trips expected nationwide is 527,900, of which 146,900 and 129,000 trips are expected in Bangkok and the central region, respectively.

People are opting for nearby destinations to save time and transport costs, said the authority.

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TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn said the spread of the Omicron variant, which prompted many places to restrict Lunar New Year activities, is considered a critical factor. This is particularly true for Yaowarat Road in Bangkok’s Chinatown, which cancelled the festival for a second consecutive year, he said.

However, as people perceive the Omicron variant to be more controllable than the Delta outbreak last year, the tourism market can reap benefits from those wanting to make merit or pray for good fortune and wealth, said Mr Yuthasak.

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The Chinese New Year festival this year might generate more revenue than 2021, which tallied only 602 million baht in tourism receipts, according to the TAT.

For the 2020 festival, before any outbreaks were recorded, overall spending was 8.64 billion baht.

TAT research forecasts an average occupancy rate nationwide during this year’s festival of 15%.

The busiest destination, with a 32% occupancy rate, is the Central region, which has popular temples to attract Chinese descendants and is within driving distance for a one-night trip, said the authority.

The South, which is more popular with foreign tourists, has the lowest occupancy rate of 7%.

Mr Yuthasak said to stimulate travel sentiment during the festival, the TAT organised and supported events in four provinces, including Ratchaburi, Suphan Buri and Nakhon Sawan, along with famous celebrations and lighting displays along Yaowarat Road in Bangkok.

He said the four destinations should lure at least 192,000 trips from visitors, generating 1.08 billion baht and an occupancy rate of around 26%.

“Even though Bangkok cannot host a major event this year, the domestic tourism vibe in the capital is expected to be outstanding as Chinatown is famous for its food, shopping and places of worship,” said Mr Yuthasak.

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