CHIANG RAI – The Association of Northern Tourism Federation in Chiang Rai expects its tourism business will have flat growth this year due to the sharp drop in European tourists as economic problems hit the euro zone.
The number of tourists visiting the northern province in 2015 will be on a par with last year’s figure of 2.8 million, said the Association President Kitti Tissakul.
“European tourist arrivals are projected to fall by 30% this year while those from Asian countries, especially China, will increase to offset the European decline.”
Of last year’s visitors to Chiang Rai, 80% were Thais and 10% each European and Asian. The province also generated tourism income of about 20 billion baht.
Chiang Rai will see a significant increase of Chinese tourists but many will just travel to Chiang Mai and Sukhothai.
In general, European tourists spend more than the Chinese.
Mr Kitti said private operators still believed in the tourism potential of Chiang Rai as the province is attractive for Thais, Japanese and Europeans.
The province is highlighting food safety as its priority to draw tourists. A scheme for restaurants to earn the Thailand Restaurant Quality Standard has attracted 18 restaurants, with the number expected to reach 90 next year.
Many interesting royally sponsored projects, such as the Mae Pun Luang Highland Development Project and the Royal Project Development Center in Huay Nam Rin, will attract both companies and government officers to learn about fruit and vegetable cultivation.
The launch of the Asean Economic Community by year-end will boost trade and tourism along the borders in Chiang Rai, while the R3A and R3B routes will help tourism in the province, Mr Kitti said.
By Chadamas Chinmaneevong