The bombings in Thailand's four southern provinces over the Chinese New Year had a significant impact on tourism in those areas, including Yala (Amphoe Betong), Pattani, Narathiwat (Amphoe Su-Ngai Kolok) and Songkhla (Amphoe Hat Yai) which had just been seen to emerge into a better direction in 2006. Pattani, where tourism depends mostly on Thai tourists thus stagnated. Su-Ngai Kolok, which relies on foreign tourists for 68 percent of their tourism earnings, also decelerated, while tourism in Betong expanded, boosted by foreign tourists, accounting for 79 percent of their tourism earnings. Overall, the number of tourist arrivals to those 3 southernmost provinces was 800,000, which was close to 2005 and was projected to generate a slightly higher tourism income of THB1,860 million. For 2007, it is forecast that if there are no other serious incidents, tourist arrivals to the 3 southernmost provinces will increase slightly or to more than 800,000, which would create a little higher tourism income of around THB2 billion.
In Hat Yai, the tourist arrivals increased around 6 percent to 2.5 million, creating tourism income of around THB13 billion, increasing 11 percent over 2005. In 2007, it is projected that, unless affected by other serious incidents, tourist arrivals to Hat Yai will rise around 8 percent to 2.7 million and generate tourism income of around THB14.5 billion, increasing 12 percent over 2006.
However, the unrest in the 3 southernmost provinces, i.e., Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat, has expanded into some areas of Songkhla. Bombings took place on February 18, 2007, which was during the Chinese New Year, causing Hat Yai tourism, as the tourism center of southern Thailand, to be impacted in the following ways:
First case: The situation will improve in Q1/2007: Hat Yai will lose tourism income of around THB800 million
If state officials can control the unrest and relieve it rapidly, Hat Yai's tourism could get better by the end of Q1/2007, if related tourism agencies of both the state and private sectors can rapidly regain the confidence of Thai and foreign tourists on safety, Hat Yai's tourism might be impacted only during the remainder of Q1/2007. KASIKORN RESEARCH CENTER (KResearch) projects that, in this case, tourist arrivals to Hat Yai, both Thais and foreigners, will fall by 25 percent, around 150,000 persons, from the forecast estimated before the unrest that tourist arrivals to Hat Yai in Q1/2007 would reach around 600,000. The incidents have resulted in Hat Yai losing around THB800 million in income from tourism.
Second case: If the situation abates in Q2/2007: Hat Yai will lose around THB1.9 billion
If the unrest in the 4 southernmost provinces is prolonged but the authorities can relieve the tension and return to normalcy in Q2/2007, Hat Yai's tourism during the Songkran festival and the overall picture of Hat Yai tourism in the first half of 2007 will still be affected. In this case, KResearch projects that Hat Yai's tourism market will continue to deteriorate into Q2/2007. The consequences of this overall in H2/2007 will translate to tourist arrivals to Hat Yai falling around 27 percent, or some 350,000 persons, from the former forecast of 1,300,000 tourists traveling to Hat Yai in H1/2007. Hat Yai would thus lose tourism income of around THB1.9 billion.
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