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2 Dec 2005

Tourism

Chiang Mai Tourism Active, Year-end 2005: Up to THB53 billion Income for Year

Chiang Mai's sluggishness in tourism over the last few years has been recovering rapidly since 2004, thanks to many supportive factors. Around 3.9 million tourists have traveled there, increasing by 14.7 percent over 2003, which dropped 1.8 percent, and income from tourism has increased 17.7 percent to THB45,067 million.

For 2005, Chiang Mai tourism has been expanding more satisfactorily, as many factors are still favorable. In addition, the tsunamis at the end of 2004, and the unrest in the southernmost provinces caused some tourists to avoid the South and turn instead to the Northern region, where Chiang Mai is an important tourism city. Important factors that support Chiang Mai tourism include:
  1. The convenience and rapidity of travel connections to Chiang Mai with the services offered by low-cost airlines since 2003.
  2. Important Chiang Mai ceremonial festivals such as Songkran and the Yi Peng Lantern Festival are activities that are internationally famous and draw a large number of tourists each year.
  3. Expanding investments in 4-5 star luxury hotels in Chiang Mai are favorable to attracting increased numbers of high-end tourists, both Thais and foreign nationals.
  4. Expanded airline business resulting from the government's policy of upgrading the status of Chiang Mai to become an aviation hub for the region.
  5. MICE market expansion by leading hotels in Chiang Mai.
  6. Tourist attractions being developed steadily, particularly the pandas at Chiang Mai Zoo ? which have become a highlight since the end of 2003 ? and the Chiang Mai Night Safari, which was unofficially opened in November 2003 with trial visits for Thai tourists free of admission charge before the official opening in January 1, 2006.
  7. Chiang Mai is a famous OTOP center.
  8. The attraction of spas in the Lanna style with their unique Chiang Mai identity.

Apart from the above favorable factors, the weather conditions at year-end in Chiang Mai tend to be quite chilly. Lately, light ground frost, known as "Mae Kaning" at Doi Intanon National Park has attracted a lot of tourists to experience wide panoramas of fog and winter weather, and there has been Mae Kaning on many mountains in the province.

With the current trend, KResearch forecasts that Chiang Mai tourism in 2005 will continue to have a satisfactory growth trend. It is projected that for the entire year of 2005, the number of tourists visiting Chiang Mai will increase by 12 percent to 4.36 million persons. More than 50 percent of this number will be Thai tourists, growing by 10 percent, while foreign tourists ? coming mostly from Europe and the US ? will grow around 15 percent.

The spending of tourists who travel to Chiang Mai in 2005 is projected to generate tourism income to Chiang Mai totaling some THB53 billion, increasing by 18 percent over 2004.

The largest single portion of that spending, or about 32 percent ? around THB17 billion ? will go to souvenir which are mostly OTOP merchandise of Chiang Mai. Another portion of those expenditures, accounting for 22 percent, with the value of THB11.5 billion, will go for accommodations at hotels, resorts and guesthouses, with more than 220 venues all over Chiang Mai, and almost 15,000 rooms. The annualized average occupancy rate has increased from 50.50 percent in 2004 to 55.00 in 2005.

Tourism