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Unlocking northern Thailand’s tourism sustainability

Northern Thailand is one of the most alluring destinations outside of Bangkok as this region offers a staggering range of amazing destinations

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Three Bouddhas at Wat Jedyod in Chiang Mai

International tourists who are familiar with Thailand are likely to have opted to visit popular destinations such as Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket but Thailand is a vast, variegated land that rewards further exploration.

Northern Thailand is one of the most alluring destinations outside of Bangkok as this region offers a staggering range of amazing destinations.

The rolling hills, sweeping mountains, lush green forests and nature, and rich melting pot of cultures make northern Thailand one of the most engaging places to visit.

At the end of 2016, the tourism revenue of northern Thailand stood at 158 billion baht, with 72% coming from domestic tourists and 28% from international ones. Average expenditure among tourists in 2016 was 2,593 baht per person per day. Therefore, the tourism sector has been one of the major driving forces of the North’s economic development.

Northern Thailand is cooler than the rest of the usually sweltering country and thus particularly popular between November and February. The temperature can get really cool in this region in this period, especially in the mountains, where tourists can experience the beauty of mist and winter flowers.

In addition, many small villages are filled with locals who live life far differently to Thais in big cities. The culture of this region has been inspired by Lanna, Karen and other indigenous ethnic groups, providing tourists with a noticeably friendly and vibrant atmosphere. Trekking tours to the hill tribes, such as the Mae Sariang, can offer a unique, memorable experience for intrepid explorers.

Given that northern Thailand also shares borders with Myanmar and Laos, it is possible for tourists and visitors to see these borders, such as at the Golden Triangle, which is the meeting point of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar on the confluence of the Mekong River.

For those who want to opt for religious destinations, northern Thailand contains a wealth of Buddhist temples built in various architectural styles including Lanna Thai, which dates back to the era of the Lanna Thai Kingdom.

Wat Phra Singh in Chiang Mai is one of the many magnificent temples in the region that boasts Lanna Thai architecture. In overall, although northern Thailand is landlocked and mountainous, the region still tops the list of favourite tourist destinations.

It is, however, important to highlight that many tourists choose to visit the region between November and February to enjoy the cool weather. For example, in the case of Chiang Mai between 2003-2007, July to August and October to February were the popular seasons for tourism in Chiang Mai, with the seasonal index exceeding 100, and the index peaking in around December.

In the case of Chiang Rai, using tourist visitor data from 2011-2016, the peak in the average seasonal index is in December and January, with indices of 136.59 and 136.72, respectively. These analyses clearly demonstrate that tourism in northern Thailand is highly seasonal and relies heavily on the cool climate.

What would happen to northern Thailand’s tourism prospects if we were to take into account the impact of future climate change?

According to climate scenarios, it is forecasted that between 2050-2069, the average annual temperature in Chiang Rai is likely to increase, while the number of cold days will have a tendency to decline significantly. Rising temperatures and a reduction in the number of days with cool temperatures could close off the window of opportunity for northern Thailand’s tourism.

         It is high time for businesses in the tourism supply chain in northern Thailand to adapt to this climate change threat. All parties concerned – both public and private sectors – should come together to redesign tourism strategies in northern Thailand.

This is, in fact, aligned with a speech given by Somrudee Charnchai, the head of the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Northern Region Office, when she said that local start-up companies should join hands with public authorities in creating inspiring travel and tourism and attracting tourists to visit the region during the out-of-season period. New activities and attractions should be promoted, such as the beautiful Mae Hong Son rice terraces, the Royal Projects, soft-adventure activities and cultural ceremonies, which can be visited all year round.

  A properly presented “story” can lead towards sustainable tourism, creating a competitive edge and making visits to the region vibrant and memorable. By adapting northern Thailand’s tourism strategies, the region can become more resilient to the changing climate in the future.

“It is high time businesses in the tourism supply chain adapted to the climate change threat.”

Kannika Thampanishvong, PhD is a Research Fellow at the Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI). Policy analyses from the TDRI appear in the Bangkok Post on alternate Wednesdays.


This article is first published in Bangkok Post, on January 24, 2018.

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Tourism

Thailand welcomes first Finnair flight from Stockholm to Phuket

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Bangkok, 25 October, 2021 – The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) today welcomed the start of Finnair’s latest direct non-stop service from Stockholm to Phuket during the 2021-2022 winter season.

The welcoming ceremony was presided over by Mr. Piyapong Choowong, Phuket Vice Governor, and Mrs. Titiporn Manenate, TAT Executive Director for Europe, Africa, and the Middle East Region, as well as representatives from the tourism-related public and private sectors.

Mr. Piyapong Choowong, Phuket Vice Governor, said, “Finnair’s Stockholm-Phuket flight marks a milestone for the reopening of Phuket to international tourism, following the successful Phuket Sandbox programme, which was launched in July under well-planned health and safety precautions, and has now become a model for the reopening of other Thai destinations.”

Finnair will operate on the Stockholm-Phuket route from 24 October 2021-24 April 2022, starting with 2 flights per week. It will increase to 3 flights per week from 29 November 2021-17 April 2022.

Also, during this winter season, the airline will operate on the Stockholm-Bangkok route with 2 two flights per week from 22 October 2021 to 21 April 2022.

In addition, Finair will be operating from Helsinki, Finland, to Phuket and Bangkok, with 2-4 flights per week during November this year and March next year.

Mrs. Titiporn Manenate, TAT Executive Director for Europe, Africa and Middle East Region, said, “This latest Stockholm-Phuket flight also marks Finnair’s first non-stop service from Sweden to Thailand, allowing visitors from Sweden to escape winter and enjoy Thailand at its finest during the annual cool season. The flight also reiterates the airline’s confidence in Thailand as a destination.”

Sweden is Thailand’s largest source of visitors from the Nordic region. Also, Phuket is one of the most popular holiday destinations among the Swedish, whose spending per trip is averaged at 85,000 Baht per person and length of stay is 19 days.

Sweden and other Nordic countries – Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and Norway – are among the 46 approved countries and territories from where travellers may enter Thailand under the ‘Test & GO’ quarantine-free entry requirements from 1 November, 2021.

The post Thailand welcomes first Finnair flight from Stockholm to Phuket appeared first on TAT Newsroom.

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More COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed in Thailand from 16 October 2021

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Bangkok, 16 October, 2021 – The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) would like to provide an update that more COVID-19 restrictions in the dark-red zone provinces have been relaxed while additional businesses and activities have been allowed to resume operations from today (16 October, 2021).

  • Restaurants and eateries, cinemas, theatres, shopping malls, sport stadiums, and public parks are now allowed to resume normal opening hours, but must close no later than 22.00 Hrs.
  • Convenience stores, fresh markets, and flea markets are now allowed to open for all types of goods with the opening hours extended for one hour longer or until 22.00 Hrs. All 24-hour shops must close nightly from 22.00-03.00 Hrs.
  • Day-care centres for elderly people are now allowed to resume operations.
  • Hotels, exhibition halls, convention halls, trade fair centres, or similar types of venues are now allowed to open for meetings, seminars, or other types of events and ceremonies up until 22.00 Hrs.
  • Shopping malls, shopping centres, community malls, or similar establishments can also open for meetings, seminars, or other types of events and ceremonies up until 22.00 Hrs., but must not hold any sales promotional activities and continue to close the amusement parks, water parks, and gaming centres.
  • Public parks, sports stadiums, gyms, fitness centres, and all types of venues for exercise can resume normal opening hours, but no later than 22.00 Hrs.

Meanwhile, gaming centres in shopping malls, shopping centres, community malls, or similar establishments that are not located in the dark-red zone province can now resume operations.

Curfew, Interprovincial Travel & Gatherings of people

To be in effect until 31 October, 2021, the night-time curfew in the dark-red zone provinces has been reduced from 6 to 4 hours, or between 23.00-03.00 Hrs.

Public and private organisations as well as people are still prohibited to organise any activities prone to the spread of disease, but the number of attendees has been increased for each zone. Dark-red zone: No gatherings of more than 50 people (from previously 25 people). Red zone: No gatherings of more than 100 people (from previously 50 people). Orange zone: No gatherings of more than 200 people (from previously 100 people).

Travel between dark-red zone provinces and other areas can resume normal operations but must apply social distancing measures.

Entertainment venues

All types of entertainment venues, including pubs, bars, and karaoke shops are to remain closed. However, the government mentioned that these businesses may undertake preparation to be ready for reopening.

Self-protective measures and distancing efforts

As usual, people nationwide are asked to continue abiding by the health and safety measures in place; such as, wearing a face mask at all times while outside of their residence, regularly washing hands with soap and water/cleaning alcohol, and avoiding unnecessary close contact with others.

TAT would like to remind all travellers to continue with D-M-H-T-T-A precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19: D – Distancing, M – Mask wearing, H – Handwashing, T – Temperature check, T – Testing for COVID-19, and A – alert application.

Thailand’s colour-coding system for COVID-19 control are in place for the following provinces:

23 (down from 29) Maximum and Strict Controlled Areas or dark-red zone provinces

Central Region: Bangkok and 22 other provinces: Ayutthaya, Kanchanaburi, Nakhon Nayok, Nakhon Pathom, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Ratchaburi, Samut Prakan, Samut Sakhon, Samut Songkhram, and Saraburi; Eastern Region: Chachoengsao, Chanthaburi, Chon Buri, Prachin Buri, and Rayong; Northern Region: Tak, and Southern Region: Nakhon Si Thammarat, Narathiwat, Pattani, Songkhla, and Yala.

Chanthaburi and Nakhon Si Thammarat have been moved up from red to the dark-red zone.

30 (down from 37) Strict Controlled Areas or red zone provinces

Central Region: Ang Thong, Chai Nat, Lop Buri, Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Sing Buri, and Suphan Buri; Eastern Region: Sa Kaeo and Trat; Northern Region: Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Nakhon Sawan, Phichit, Phitsanulok, and Phetchabun; Northeastern Region: Chaiyaphum, Kalasin, Khon Kaen, Maha Sarakham, Nakhon Ratchasima, Si Sa Ket, Surin, Ubon Ratchathani, and Udon Thani, and Southern Region: Chumphon, Phatthalung, Ranong, Satun, Surat Thani, and Trang.

Ang Thong, Lop Buri, Nakhon Ratchasima, Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Sing Buri, and Suphan Buri have been moved down from the dark-red to red zone, while Surat Thani has been moved up from the orange zone.

24 (up from 11) Controlled Areas or orange zone provinces

Northern Region: Kamphaeng Phet, Lampang, Lamphun, Mae Hong Son, Nan, Phayao, and Phrae, Sukhothai, Uthai Thani, and Uttaradit; Northeastern Region: Amnat Charoen, Bueng Kan, Buri Ram, Loei, Mukdahan, Nakhon Phanom, Nong Bua Lam Phu, Nong Khai, Roi Et, Sakon Nakhon, and Yasothon, and Southern Region: Krabi, Phang-Nga, and Phuket.

Amnat Charoen, Buri Ram, Kamphaeng Phet, Lampang, Lamphun, Loei, Nong Bua Lam Phu, Nong Khai, Roi Et, Sakon Nakhon, Sukhothai, Uthai Thani, Uttaradit, and Yasothon have been moved down from red to orange zone.

The post More COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed in Thailand from 16 October 2021 appeared first on TAT Newsroom.

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