The active tourism in Chiang Mai seen from late 2005 into early this year has shown signs of slowdown since March, hampered by the domestic political situation and severe flooding in the North. In addition, the World Cup 2006 also directly hit the convention market, mainly featuring government officials, and foreign tourists – a key market for Chiang Mai tourism. Against this backdrop, the off-peak tourism season there has been in doldrums.
However, tourism-related operators in this
Northern province have been adjusting themselves in earnest to brace for the expected boom in Chiang Mai tourism late this year thanks to scores of favorable factors as summarized in the following:
Steady business expansion of five-star and boutique hotels over the past few years, and a greater presence of leading international hotel chains as part of their efforts to expand their business into Chiang Mai
Increasing international and domestic flight routes between Chiang Mai and other countries, as well as other provinces
Newly-developed tourist attractions in Chiang Mai that have provided a wider diversification of attractions for visitors including Chiang Mai Night Safari, Chiang Mai Zoo - where Chinese pandas are a major magnet - and the OTOP Village.
The visits of royal guests from several countries, both before and after the 60th Anniversary Celebration of H.M. the King's Accession to the Throne, that were publicized worldwide through various media helped boost Chiang Mai's image in international eyes.
A World-class horticultural exposition, entitled ;Royal Flora Ratchaphreuk 2006” to be staged from November 1, 2006, to January 31, 2007, is expected to raise the number of local and foreign visitors many fold, to flock to Chiang Mai during the final two months of this year.
KResearch estimates that the number of tourists visiting Chiang Mai will increase at the end of the year, which is the high season. As a result, the number of tourists visiting Chiang Mai in 2006 will rise by 15 percent over 2005, or there will be not less than 4.6 million tourists. Of that amount of tourists, there will be 2.6 million Thai tourists, rising by 20 percent over 2005. As for the rest, or around 2.0 million tourists, they will be foreign tourists, growing by 9 percent over 2005.
In the matter of expenses of tourists traveling to Chiang Mai in 2006, it is estimated that this will create income of around THB42 billion throughout the tourism industry of Chiang Mai. A large proportion of that, some 31 percent, or around THB13 billion, will be spent on souvenirs, particularly OTOP products, which include the famous handicrafts of Chiang Mai, such as woodcarvings, mulberry paper products, silverware and ceramic products, etc.
The next ranked products, or 22 percent of the total with a value of THB9.2 billion will be spent on accommodations in Chiang Mai, of which there were 270 venues and 18,000 rooms totally in 2005.