Chinese New Year tourism boom

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SONGKHLA, Jan 24 – Thailand’s tourism ambiance during the Chinese Lunar New Year festival drew large numbers of Thai and foreign travellers streaming into the major southern province of Songkhla as well as the northern province of Chiang Rai.

Somchart Pimthanapoonporn, president of the Hat Yai-Songkhla Hotel Association, said Tuesday that a large number of Malaysian and Singaporean tourists crossed the border to join activities in Songkhla during the Chinese New Year festival. On average 10,000-20,000 Malaysians daily crossed the Thai-Malaysian border in Sadao district during the holiday, he said.

Thanks to numerous visitors from the neighbouring country crossing the border to Thailand, the traffic near the border crossing on the Malaysian side was congested. A road was reportedly jammed pack with vehicles as far as 10 kilometres.

Meanwhile, all hotel rooms in the Songkhla metropolis of Hat Yai were fully booked, Mr Somchart said.

In the southern province of Satun, many domestic and foreign tourists were visiting islands around the Tarutao National Park, according to Panapon Cheevaserichon, assistant park chief.

He said that ferry boat service took a full load of passengers with every trip and that operators had to provide additional boats to meet the passenger demand.

Elsewhere, cool weather in the northernmost province of Chiang Rai attracted a large number of visitors during the Chinese New Year. Many tourists visited the Mae Fah Luang Garden to enjoy decorative plants and winter flowers.

The Lunar Chinese New Year is one of the most important occasions in Thailand, particularly among ethnic Chinese Thai people.