Songkran: Economy booster or Covid-19 spreader?
Holiday spending during Songkran, the one time when “raining on one’s parade” is a plus, is projected to be the lowest in 9 years at about 113 billion baht, down 17% from 2019 with people still facing concerns over the Covid-19 pandemic. The tourism industry has been hoping for a big boost from the celebration, but it is seeming less likely. A poll by the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce of 1,256 people in the last week of March predicts a less enthusiastic Songkran festival again this year, according to the UTCC president.
“The lower spending means the Songkran festival will not be as vibrant as usual, though it’s unlikely to be gloomy either,”
Covid-19 is to blame for the dampening of the spirit of the usually soaking-wet Songkran holiday, with many people feeling nervous about the health of their bodies and bank accounts. Fears after the massive outbreak in Samut Sakhon and around Bangkok, in Bang Khae and Pathum Thani, may keep Songkran celebrations local and in-home, driving down holiday spending significantly. The damage to the Thai economy without signs of any immediate relief also has people watching their budgets more closely.
The UTCC poll found that more frugal activities were among the most popular during a Covid-19 Songkran, especially since the government is currently banning water fights and splashing again this year and strictly regulating holiday events to prevent a coronavirus outbreak. Making merit tops the list of activities, followed by eating and celebrating at home. The third most popular is “rod nam dam hua,” a traditional ceremony where the younger generation pours jasmine water on the hands of elders and parents to receive blessings and to wish the elders good health.
Only about 22% of those polled said they will increase their spending this year, while 43% say they will spend about the same and nearly 35% will tighten their budget and reduce expenses this Songkran due to Covid-19. 26% of respondents plan on staying home, while 10% will travel to their home province. 15% have other inter-province travel plans and 39% plan to stay within their current province. Chon Buri, Prachuap Khiri Khan and Trat are among the most popular holiday destinations. 10% have not made any plans yet.
Those who are planning to do any tourist travel are not likely to spend big either. 44% are planning only a single-day trip, not a longer, less thrifty holiday. Travellers to tourist destinations are expected to spend an average of 5,180 baht.
SOURCE: Bangkok Post
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