CHIANG RAI – Pakaimass Viara, Chiang Rai Chamber of Commerce Deputy Chief told reporters Monday that the Strict new regulations to regulate Chinese tourists entering Thailand with thier vehicles has resulted in no vehicle entering Chiang Rai, just one month after it’s implementation.
Pakaimass attributed the drop off to regulations making the road journey to Thailand too expensive for many people.
“This is a different story to the situation last year when many Chinese tourists visited our country by car,” Pakaimass said. “Now the tourist |industry in Chiang Khong, which relies heavily on Chinese tourists, has already been affected and some businesses have already closed down.”
Chiang Rai Tourism Authority of Thailand director Lertchai Wangtrakuldee said Chinese tourists who wanted to travel to Thailand by car must follow the Transport Ministry regulations, which were very complicated and expensive.
Lertchai told the Bangkok Post that Chinese drivers had to undergo a driving test which took an entire day, buy car insurance and they could not drive in other provinces.
“From what I have asked the tourism business owners that arrange road tours from China, I found that tourists still want to travel to Thailand by their own car. But after the Transport Ministry regulations came into effect, they felt that it is too costly and complicated to travel more than 1,000 kilometres and they can only travel in Chiang Rai,” he said.
“We are trying to solve this problem by suggesting the affected tourism business owners send a petition to the relevant agencies asking them to loosen the regulations, and if the tourists are allowed to travel beyond Chiang Rai, the high number of Chinese tourists will resume.”
Pornchai Jitnavasathian, chairman of the Tourism Council of Chiang Mai, said on Monday that the much lighter inbound traffic obviously resulted from the Land Transport Department’s ban on visiting motorists from driving beyond the province of entry. The measure took effect on June 27.
The measure affected the number of driving Chinese tourists who normally arrived in caravans through the R3A route from southern China via Laos and Chiang Rai’s Chiang Khong district to Chiang Mai and had high purchasing power, he said.
Before the ban, most of these visitors went to Chiang Mai and other destinations deeper in the country including Bangkok, Mr Pornchai said.
Previously, each visiting vehicle from southern China carried three or more tourists who spent at least 5,000 baht each per day, Mr Pornchai said. He estimated that the declining arrivals cost Chiang Mai 1 million a day in tourism income.
Boontha Chailert, president of the Chiang Mai Tourism Business Association, told the Nation that unless the ban was reviewed, 3,000-5,000 workers in the tourism sector in the northern province would lose their jobs in three months.
Tourism authorities in Chiang Mai would call for a review of the ban and oppose other future conditions that would add inconveniences to visiting motorists, Mr Boontha said. He cited possible requirements for them to seek entry permission at least 30 days in advance and exit the country through the same border pass.
The Land Transport Department imposed the rule after an influx of visiting motorists resulted in a spike in traffic accidents and waste management problems. Besides, the merits of this group of tourists were questioned since many of them did not stay at hotels.
By Cheewin Sattha and Pratch Rujivanarom
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