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December 21, 2008

Thailand Tourism:
North, northeast expect rise in visitors during New Year holiday

Tourism in the North and Northeast Thailand is more active ahead of the long New Year holiday, thanks to an easing of the country's political turbulence, declining oil prices and cool weather, state news agency TNA quoted a government tourism official as saying Saturday.

Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) deputy governor Jutaporn Reungronasa said tourism in the two regions has picked up since the beginning of this month due to these positive factors, enabling more motorists, mostly Thais, to make journeys.

She said large numbers of tourists visited the northern city of Chiang Mai and Tak province bordering Myanmar in early December and crossed the Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge where they bought gemstones and One Tambon One Product (OTOP) goods at a market on the river banks.

The number of visitors passing through the immigration checkpoint in Tak has risen about 30 percent, said Mrs. Jutaporn.

More tourists are expected later this month to attend a 'Cowboy Festival' in Pak Chong district of Nakhon Ratchasima northeast of Bangkok and a winter flower fair in Loei's Phu Rua district, she said.

She advised that people planning to travel during the five-day New Year celebrations, starting December 31, should plan their journey and book hotels in advance.

About a week earlier, Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT) said it expected the missing of 3 million tourists during December and March, as a result of the domestic political conflicts. This would reduce the expected revenue by 109 billion baht, TCT said.

"We expect the tourists to divert to neighbouring countries particularly Bali and Malaysia," said TCT president Kongkrit Hiranyakit was quoted as telling local daily The Nation.

TCT also revised down the tourist arrivals next year to 12.8 million from 15 million, with tourism revenue of 460 billion baht.

Kongkrit said the figures are lower than in 2008 when tourist arrivals are expected to reach 14.1 million and revenue to 540 billion baht.

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