Special Report: Activities to be held to mark Chinese New Year despite ongoing shutdown

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The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) continues to host activities to mark the Chinese New Year celebrations in Thailand, despite a significant drop in Chinese tourist arrivals, triggered by prolonged protests. 

Celebrations will be organized from January 24 to February 4 in provinces across the country, including Bangkok’s famous Yaowarat Road, one of the world’s largest Chinatowns.

The festival is seen as the most important event for the Thai-Chinese communities in Thailand. Each year, the event draws millions of domestic and foreign visitors to many popular destinations in the kingdom.

Thailand’s Chinese New Year events this year will be held in various major cities with spectacular highlights. In Bangkok, cultural performances from China, dragon parades and lion dances, street stalls selling Chinese cuisine, lantern decorations, and an exhibition of Yaowarat’s Thai-Chinese community will be held in Yaowarat from January 31 to February 1.

Songkhla’s Hat Yai, which is the top destination for Chinese travelers, will play host to cultural performances and concerts by big name Thai and Malaysian artists, Miss Chinese 2014 beauty contest, and a bazaar selling Chinese New Year goods from January 30 to February 1.

According to the latest figures, the number of Chinese tourists coming to Bangkok is expected to drop by 70 percent this month as the current political turmoil poses risks to the tourism market.

Chinese New Year traditionally brings a boost in Chinese tourism to Thailand. However this year, fewer tourists from China, including Hong Kong and Taiwan, are expected to celebrate the holiday in Thailand. The country welcomed about 100,000 Chinese tourists during the Chinese New Year last year.

Hotel operators noted a surge in hotel bookings in provinces other than Bangkok, particularly Chiang Mai. Hotels in the northern province are nearly 100 percent booked, up from 85 percent last year. The Association of Thai Travel Agents made known that due to the ongoing shutdown and an upsurge in violence at Bangkok rally sites, Chinese tourists and international visitors in general are making plans to visit other provinces, including Phuket and Krabi.

Nonetheless, during the first quarter, numbers are expected to drop 60 per cent from the first quarter in 2013. Bangkok would be hit the hardest with a 70-per-cent drop, while Chiang Mai, Pattaya and Phuket would fall about 40 per cent.