An estimated Bt116 billion in currency is expected to circulate in Thailand during the annual Songkran festival, according to the University of Thai Chamber of Commerce.

Thanawat Polvichai, director of the university’s Economic and Business Research Centre, said revenue during Songkran will increase 2.36 per cent from the same period last year – the lowest growth in the last four years, mainly due to the inactive economy and the political impasse.

He said the public’s anxiety over the political uncertainty and economic situation has impacted their overseas vacations which dropped 18.9 per cent in Songkran last year to only 5.9 per cent this year.

People are more cautious in their spending while sales growth will be minimal, he said, adding that violence during the festival, if it occurs, will push down consumer spending.

Songkran 2013 in Ayyuthaya. Photo by VJJ Harrison (jjharrison89@facebook.com)
Songkran 2013 in Ayutthaya. Photo by JJ Harrison ([email protected])

Mr Thanawat said the survey found that consumer borrowing during Songkran will increase 20.1 per cent – a sign of an inactive economy in which people’s earnings are less than spending.

Favourite attractions for Songkran revellers are the sea and beaches at 36.3 per cent, mountains at 21.6 per cent and waterfalls at 20.5 per cent.

International arrivals down 9%

International tourist arrivals declined by 9.39% in March year-on-year to 2.1 million due mainly to the political unrest, says the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

But It projected overall international tourist arrivals to reach 28 million with two trillion baht revenues expected this year.

TAT named  six markets with the biggest declines were Africa (-17.8%), South Asia (-17.7%), the Middle East (-14.8%), East Asia (-14.67%) Oceania (-10.7%) and the Americas (-5.06%).

However TAT said Europe saw a 2.25% increase to 680,728 visitors on the back of an improving economy.

Russian and Finnish markets are two main growth drivers  rising by 9.86% to 211,677 visitors, and by 48.3% to 25,897 respectively.

Among key markets, tourist arrivals from Japan dropped by 26.1% to 101,046 visitors, while Malaysia was down 20.3% to 184,233, Britain 13.1%, to 79,608, China 11.1% to 331,638 and Germany 11% to 79,966.

TAT said In the first quarter, international tourist arrivals fell 5.85% year-on-year to 6.6 million, while tourism revenue declined by 4.02% to 311 billion baht

The Tourism Authority of Thailand projects foreign tourist arrivals this year will reach 28 million, while tourism revenue will be 2 trillion baht

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