While tourism operators in Thailand are hoping this years Songkran 2021 festival will boost domestic travel and spur the economy, business community on Khao San Road expects to lose money after health authorities banned a variety of the celebration’s customary activities.
The government has designated April 12 as a special holiday, making the Songkran festival an extended long holiday from April 10 to 15 to stimulate local tourism.
However, Sa-nga Ruangwattanakul, president of the Khao San Road Business Association, told the Bangkok post that the number of tourists is likely to drop now that fun activities, such as water splashing, powder smearing and foam parties, are prohibited.
He said about 10,000 tourists will visit Khao San Road a day during the celebrations. He expects traders and other businesses will make a daily income of about 10 million baht.
Business operators will lose a lot of money compared to revenue of previous years, he said. “Before the Covid-19 pandemic, revenue was about 100 million baht per day,” Mr Sa-nga said. Water guns are prohibited in the area and tourists will be screened at checkpoints as part of Covid-19 control measures.
Foreign tourists without quarantine
Meanwhile, Phumkit Raktaengam, president of the Phuket Tourist Association, said local operators are pushing ahead with a proposal to reopen the resort island to foreign tourists without quarantine from July 1.
He said business operators are confident they can make it happen following the roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines. Under the “Phuket Tourism Sandbox” scheme, the resort island requires 933,174 doses of vaccines for a target population of 466,587.
“Reopening without quarantine can happen if both locals and foreign visitors are vaccinated,” he said. “I think we can do it only if Phuket people receive their vaccines before April 15.”
Residents of Phuket can get their jabs at nine establishments designated under the vaccination program. The vaccinations will be administered by medical teams from state-run and privately-owned hospitals.
He said business operators have discussed with their counterparts in Europe and found that customers prefer no quarantine. In the Scandinavian market, 48% want to visit Phuket, Krabi and Phangnga in the Andaman, while 25% want to visit Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao in the Gulf. Of the total, more than 50% want to spend their days at the beach.
However, about 68% say they will not make a trip to Thailand if quarantine is mandatory while 26% say they do not mind 10-14 days of quarantine.