CHIANGRAI TIMES – The haze problem in Thailand’s northern provinces has cut the number of tourists in Chiang Rai by more than 20 per cent and is continuing gradually on a downward trend if the problem continues to persist, according to Chiang Rai Tourism Council President Somkiat Chuentheerawong.
Provincial workers were assigned to spray water into the air in may locations to reduce the dust particle level and believe that the situation is improving. The particulate levels earlier registered as the highest concentration in the region at almost 300 micrograms per cubic metre and the distinctive odors of burnt forests and fields were dropping but the gray smog could be seen lingering in the sky.
Mr Somkiat said the impact of the haze, caused by seasonal forest and farmland fires, has started to pinch the tourism business in the province as the number of tourists has fallen by more than 20 per cent compared with the same period last year. The number of visitors is expected to nose dive if the situation does not improve.
He urged Chiang Rai farmers to stop prepare their fields for the new round of crops by burning off last year’s ground cover, or other open air burning activities. The authorities have been asked to enforce strict measures against violators.
The Northern Rain Making Operation Centre on Tuesday continued its cloud-seeding activities, even though humidity is still inadequate for rain-making.
Overall air quality in the North on Tuesday ranged from moderate to higher levels posing health risks. Despite the dropping level of dust particles, widespread forest fires in Thailand’s North and in neighbouring Laos and Myanmar continue as major obstacles to tackling the haze problem. (MCOT online news)