Thailand’s traditional New Year, Songkran, is projected to result in over Bt100 billion (over US$3.3 billion) in circulation, according to a survey by the University of Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC).
Thanawat Polvichai, director the UTTC Business Forecasting Center, on Wednesday told a news briefing that the upcoming festival was likely to be the liveliest Songkran celebration in the past five years- since 2008- as spending is forecast to rise to Bt103 billion or a 7.1 percent rise, year-on-year.
As a result of the 40 percent minimum-wage hike and the recovering economy, Thai celebrants are expected to spend more money on parties and celebrations.
Thanks to the long Songkran festival, the center’s director predicted that some holidaymakers would travel up-country to relax after the 2011 mega-flood.
However, some of survey respondents who remained worried about the higher goods and oil prices as well as the slow pace of economic recovery said that they plan to observe the holiday at home with family members and would spend carefully.
Meanwhile, spending on alcoholic beverages during Songkran was forecast to increase to Bt900 per person from Bt700 per person, compared to last year.
Regarding the car bombing at a hotel in Hat Yai, Dr Thanawat said that the devastating incident would not widely impact the overall economic outlook, explaining that the violence would only slightly affect the country’s economic expansion by 0.05-0.07 percent.
On the other hand, the explosion would directly impact the economy in Songkhla.
Hotel room occupancies were projected to fall by 40 percent with the number of hotel guests dropping by 10,000-15,000 persons, Dr Thanawat explained. He said that the damages amounted to Bt600-700 million ($20-23 million).
If there is no repeat of the violence, the Songkhla economy will recover in the next three months, the academic expected.
Meanwhile, Dr Thanawat also advised the government to control goods prices in the first half of the year to prevent rising inflation, saying the appropriate period for a goods price rise should be in the fourth quarter.