Over 5,000 people are out of work along with over also 1,000 elephants as a majority of Chiang Mai elephant camps are closing. The elephant camps have closed due to the coronavirus related downturn in tourism.
According to Mr Boonthachai Lert, Executive Chairman of Mae Taeng Elephant Camp and a spokesperson for the industry, 85 of Chiang Mai’s 94 camps had shut their doors.
The current estimated loss due to the closures across the industry is said to be Bt6 billion, Chiang Mai One reports.
Mr. Lert said at his elephant camp daily tourist numbers were usually over 1,000 people. However since the outbreak numbers have dropped to less than 50 people per day. He said that just for for his business to break even he needed 400 people per day. Now he’s currently reducing hours for employees in an attempt to keep the business running.
He added that if things don’t change in the next month he will have no choice but to close his business as well.
No Songkran water festival for elephants to spray water
The coronavirus has also impacted Chiang Mai’s Songkran water festival. The Mayor of the northern province of Chiang Mai has cancelled all activities related to the Songkran water festival in April. The water festival cancellation is to help control the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Chiang Mai mayor Tasanai Buranupakorn said the annual Songkran festival that normally attracted huge crowds would be completely suspended. However there would be Lanna-styled decorations in urban areas. Also exhibitions on traditional lifestyles at the ancient Tha Phae gate and the Three Kings Monument.
“For the safety of people and tourists, we cancel any activities that would attract crowds of people. They include a beauty contest of women cycling while holding paper umbrellas; a procession of Buddha images and a tradition of extending Songkran greetings to the Chiang Mai governor,” Mr Tasanai said.