CHIANG RAI – Traders in Muang Kao border market in Chiang Khong district have complained of a sudden drop in tourists after the opening of the fourth Friendship Bridge nearby.Food vendors line the streets in Chiang Khong
The bridge connecting to neighbouring Laos opened on Dec 11, 2013. After it opened, the Lao immigration office moved from Huay Xai opposite the Muang Kao market to the bridge. Now that tourists can use the bridge, equipped with its own immigration office, to cross into Laos, very few are visiting Muang Kao market.
Chiang Rai chamber of commerce chairman Thanisorn Kradumporn said Muang Kao tourism has dropped by 70%, and is causing extensive damage to the local economy.
Ban Hua Wiang village head Pichai Inno said traders and residents planned to petition Lao authorities to reopen the immigration facility opposite Muang Kao.
Local businesses said they were prepared to provide necessary equipment, such as computers, if Laos agreed to reopen the immigration office.