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Unhealthy Levels of PM2.5 Dust has Begun to Worsen in Chiang Mai



Unhealthy Levels of PM2.5 Dust has Begun to Worsen in Chiang Mai

The cycle of unhealthy levels of PM2.5 dust has begun to worsen in Chiang Mai, which is still suffering from the covid-19 outbreak. The dust is also hurting the already sluggish hotel situation and low purchasing power.

“The air pollution, which normally peaks in March, started to affect tourism, especially hotels located in the main city,” said Nantanittaya Sesaweech, assistant managing director of Horizon Village and Resort.

As tourists can check air quality with Air Visual, an application that monitors pollution, they prefer tourism sites outside the city or those close to nature with better air quality.

Horizon Village and Resort, which has a 302-rai garden, received around 30,000 baht from the garden’s entrance fees last weekend, up from 8,000 baht prior to the pandemic spread last year.

Apart from the increasing dust pollution, weak purchasing power due to the economic fallout from the pandemic also represents one of the most challenging factors for operators.

Advanced room sales at discounted prices were not successful because tourists are even more price-conscious and cannot risk spending as an uncertain future awaits, said Ms Nantanittaya.

Hotels shuttering in Chiang Mai

La-Iad Bungsrithong, president of the Thai Hotels Association (THA) northern chapter, said the overall hotel occupancy in Chiang Mai during January sharply dropped to 3-5% as the province previously announced that people from maximum control zones as well as maximum and strict control zones have to undergo 14-day quarantine.

Those restrictions were lifted on Feb 1, except for people in Samut Sakhon province. However, hoteliers still have not seen any forward booking throughout this month. While some operators decided to temporarily close after the new outbreak started.

Mrs La-Iad said the province plans to gradually host events to attract tourists during the high season in February, including Chiang Mai Blooms, the annual floral festival.

Even though vaccine campaigns have begun globally, the chances of bringing back international tourists remain highly uncertain.

Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, THA president, said the association is conducting a survey among hotel operators in every region as most of them facing a critical impact from PM2.5 pollution.

“Bangkok also faces hazardous air. This is a problem we need to address immediately as people will perceive it as a negative factor when planning trips to affected destinations,” Mrs Marisa said.


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