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Chiang Mai steps up efforts to keep visitors flowing

By : Focus on Travel News|Updated: 2011-11-21

Known as the ‘Rose of the North’ for its charm and beauty, Thailand’s northern city of Chiang Mai is stepping up efforts to ensure its normal flow of visitors in spite of the tragic flooding affecting some parts of Bangkok, the national capital and main gateway.

Hotels, tour operators and numerous other businesses, especially at the grassroots level, have been affected by the business downturn caused by the perception that large parts of Thailand are flooded. The people and tourism industry of Chiang Mai feel that as they were entirely unaffected by the floods, they should work and cooperate to keep the visitors flowing as best as possible.

According to Mr Vorapong Muachaotai, President of the Chiang Mai Tourism Business Association, as quoted in the Bangkok Post: "A lot of international tourists, especially Asians, have cancelled or postponed trips to Chiang Mai because of the floods."

To help redress the situation, Chiang Mai exhibitors were busy working at the World Travel Market in November 7-10. More efforts will be made at numerous other upcoming trade shows, such as the ASEAN Tourism Forum in Manado, Indonesia, in January 2012 and the world's leading travel trade show, ITB Berlin, March 7-11, 2012.

The Eurozone crisis has also affected European visitors to Chiang Mai. The share of tourism revenue from Europe has fallen from 49% in the past to 30%, while Asia's share has risen from 29% to 49%, Mr Vorapong says.

Chiang Mai is the economic, communications, cultural and tourism centre of Northern Thailand. In recent years, it has undergone considerable economic development but still retains its historic heritage. It is also becoming increasingly well-known as a centre of traditional Thai massage, meditation, spas, health and wellness. The accommodation sector is vastly improved, with new properties ranging from specialist boutique hotels to health and wellness retreats to deluxe resorts.

According to the Airports of Thailand, during January – October 2011, international passengers disembarking at Chiang Mai International Airport totalled 133,693, up 44.1% over the same period of 2010. However, the October - November figures are expected to be much lower.

The city is also facing a hotel oversupply since late 2007, when the last Royal Flora Ratchaphruek Expo was held. There are currently 40,100 units in hotels, resorts and serviced apartments in Chiang Mai, with new supply expected to increase each year.

According to Mr Vorapong, new projects coming up include Promenade Chiang Mai, the Chiang Mai International Convention and Exhibition Centre and the renovated Chiang Mai Night Safari. The opening of the R3A Road connecting Thailand, Myanmar, Lao PDR. and China should help woo more Chinese tourists to Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. All of these will have a positive impact on visitor arrivals.

The original visitor arrival targets for Chiang Mai was around 2.3 million (1.3 million foreign, 1 million domestic) with generated revenue of 38 billion Baht in 2011.

Source: Focus on Travel News