Published on February 7, 2008
Thais have also postponed trips to China, because of that country's harshest winter in 50 years.
Thai Travel Agents' Association president Anake Srishevachart said Thailand had become a hot favourite for Chinese travellers during Chinese New Year. Each year during the period, more than 100 charter flights can be expected to head for Bangkok, Phuket, Pattaya and Chiang Mai, bringing thousands of visitors.
However, the number of charter flights from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan has fallen this year, and outbound tourism is also sluggish, because of the weather in China.
Association of Thai Travel Agents vice president Vichit Prakobkosol said tourism during this year's Chinese New Year celebrations would show little growth from last year.
Traditionally, the celebrations last 15 days, ending with a lantern festival on the night of the full moon.
Suttikorn Jearpaitoon, managing director of the Thai traditional theatre Alangkarn Pattaya, said advance bookings for the show were lower than last year. Local audiences have "vanished", because the economic slowdown had brought insecurity to their lives.
However, the number of tourists from Asian markets like China, Hong Kong and Taiwan are up about 20 per cent. Although there are more visitors from Singapore than last year, their numbers are still lower than in 2006.
"Overall, tourism in Pattaya is not good this Chinese New Year," Suttikorn said.
Supawan Tanomkieatipume, executive assistant manager of Bangkok's Twin Towers Hotel, said hotels in the capital were enjoying a surge of tourists coming for the Chinese New Year festival and to visit their relatives.
She said The Twin Towers Hotel was filled to capacity this week, as were most other hotels.
The surge in occupancy has been welcomed by hotels, which have suffered sluggish conditions in recent months from cancellations of many meetings and conferences.
Hotel operators believe their businesses will rebound in the second quarter after the new government is settled into office.
Suchat Sritama, The Nation