No power cuts so far and a wild horde of tourists (Thais and farang) waiting to be splashed. Like it or not, it is time to face it : Songkran is back at full speed in 2013 (aka 2556).

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is projecting that this year’s Songkran festival holiday will generate 2.7 million domestic and foreign visitors and estimated expenditures of 11.1 billion baht, up respectively 10% and 20% over the numbers recorded in the 2012 Songkran holiday.

2.7 million domestic and foreign visitors

Also known as the Thai New Year, the kingdom’s most fun-filled holiday period will be celebrated between 12-16 April 2013. The number of domestic travellers is estimated at 2,034,000, with expenditures of 4,450 million baht, and 678,000 foreign visitors, with expenditures of 6,675 million baht.

Songkran Festival at Phra Si Sanphet Temple in Ayutthaya Historical Park
Songkran Festival at Phra Si Sanphet Temple in Ayutthaya Historical Park, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya

Songkran is originally a Buddhist celebration and an occasion to pay respect to elderly people (over 60 according to Thai tradition), but during the recent years it has been transformed in a ruthless water war by Thai and foreigner revelers, throwing buckets of ice cold water sometime in a very rude manner, along with drinking anything BUT water…

The normally quiet and respectful Thais go a little crazy at Songkran and arm themselves with water guns, hoses and buckets to soak anyone and everyone they see. If you go out on the street for the 3 to 4 days of the festival you most certainly will get wet and perhaps be smeared with white powder. Try to keep your temper and smile. Unlikely as it seems this is part of the ancient tradition of paying respect to elders.

Said TAT Governor Suraphon Svetasreni, “Thanks to domestic political stability and a generally good economic situation, both within Thailand within our key source markets in the Asia-Pacific, we are expecting to have record number of visitors nationwide. We hope that the festival will help everyone ‘cool off’ in more ways than one.”

TAT research shows that hotel occupancies in major tourist destinations such as Chiang Mai, Phuket, Hat Yai, Pattaya are already reported at over 70%. International arrivals are also up. A total of 177 charter flights (about 31,973 seats) are scheduled to arrive from major markets such as China and Russia during the Songkran festival.

Domestic travel is due to boom as thousands of people leave Bangkok to return for family visits

in their provincial hometowns or to participate in the “Songkran Splendour 2013” festivals being held in 12 provinces — Chiang Mai, Suphan Buri, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, Chon Buri, Samut Prakan, Sukhothai, Khon Kaen, Nakhon Phanom, Nong Khai, Songkhla, Nakhon Si Thammarat, and Phuket.

The projected visitor arrivals this month are expected to go a long way towards helping meet the TAT’s visitor arrival target of 24.09 million in 2013. So far, the trend is good. In January-February, visitor arrivals to Thailand totalled 4.56 million, up 18.8% over the same period last year. During 1- 27 March 2013, international visitor arrivals just at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport totalled 1,230,296 up 11.93 % over the same period of 2012.

Said Mr. Suraphon, “Songkran is a time of renewal, rest, recreation, release, and bonding with families who sometimes see each other only during this time of year. If there is any time of year to visit, enjoy, and learn about Thailand, Songkran is it. There is nothing anywhere quite like it, and you’re unlikely to forget your Thai New Year experiences anytime soon.

“TAT truly hopes that all tourists coming during this special time of year will have the opportunity to participate in all of these colourful and joyful events taking place throughout the Kingdom. It is a wonderful time of year to experience the fun-loving yet traditional nature of Thailand and her people.”

 

Forecast of tourists numbers and tourism revenue during Songkran Festival 2013

Region

Number of Tourists

%
Growth

Tourism Revenue
(million baht)

%
Growth

% Occupancy Rate

 

2013

2012

 

2013

2012

   
All over country         2,712,000         2,470,367

9.78

11,125.00

9,220.91

20.65

70

North           310,000           284,119

9.11

1,100.00

988.17

11.32

70

North East           325,000           297,295

9.32

375.00

339.46

10.47

70

Central           645,000           588,119

9.67

1,600.00

1,441.48

11.00

65

Bangkok           282,000           255,731

10.27

2,480.00

2,203.10

12.57

65

South           440,000           400,668

9.82

4,570.00

4,066.84

12.37

70

East           710,000           644,435

10.17

1,000.00

890.3

12.32

80

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