Songkran hotel bonanza
Hotels in Hat Yai were 100-per-cent occupied during Songkran, followed by those in Chiang Mai and Rayong, where occupancy topped 90 per cent, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) said yesterday.
The annual water festival, which officially ran from Thursday to Saturday, stimulated huge expenditure, the TAT said.
Spending on domestic travel and holidays topped Bt25 billion, while Bt7 billion was spent on overseas trips, it said.
The festival also drew visitors from neighbouring Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore to Hat Yai, said TAT director for the South, Suthep Kuesang.
"The city of Hat Yai organised many events including a music festival and an international food fair. It also hosted a volleyball competition on the beach, which attracted 50 teams from 20 countries," Suthep said.
Hat Yai claimed the biggest crowds this year, he said, with hotels in nearby Songkhla town achieving an average occupancy rate of 80 per cent.
From January to March, the number of Malaysian tourists entering the border towns of Sadao and Padang Besar rose 14.75 per cent over the same period last year.
The TAT said hotels in Koh Samui recorded occupancy rates of 80-85 per cent, while Koh Pha Ngan secured almost full occupancy, with the peak coinciding with the island's Full Moon Party last Thursday.
The TAT's Information Centre reported hotels in Eastern provinces such as Rayong attracted a large number of local tourists. Hotel occupancy rates there ranged between 70 and 95 per cent.
The popular Koh Samet achieved 95 per cent.
The TAT said hotels in Hua Hin in Prachuap Khiri Khan and Cha Am in Petchaburi also did brisk business.
Samut Sakhon and Samut Songkhram, famous for "home stay" holidays drew many visitors from Bangkok.
Northeastern hotels also fared well.
Nakhon Ratchasima and Khao Yai National Park saw hotel occupancy rates of between 60 and 80 per cent.
In Buri Ram, Chaiyaphum and Surin, hotels achieved between 60 and 70 per cent.
In Chiang Mai, the key city for Songkran celebrations, many hotels saw almost 100-per-cent occupancy.
The northern provinces of Phitsanulok, Sukhothai, Tak and Nakhon Sawan also received many holidaymakers.
The TAT also noted Songkran was observed in temples abroad, such as Wat Budhanusorn in Fremont, California, where many Thais congregated, and in Tumbalong Park, Sydney where Thais in Australia organised religious events and cultural activities.