BANGKOK - The current political unrest appears to be having a negative impact on hotel occupancy rates and advance bookings this month in Bangkok and some provinces, a recent poll conducted by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) showed.
Overall, occupancy has dropped by 5 per cent compared with the same period last year, with Bangkok hit hardest with a drop of 25.5 per cent year on year, followed by 5.6 per cent in Nakhon Ratchasima, 5 per cent in Kanchanaburi and 4.4 per cent in Songkhla. However, arrivals in Chiang Mai and Chon Buri were still positive, showing an increase of 2.7 per cent and 7.9 per cent respectively during the period.
The TAT poll was carried out from November 21 to 28 on a sample of 600 business operators in six provinces, namely Bangkok, Chon Buri, Nakhon Ratchasima, Kanchanaburi, Songkhla and Chiang Mai. As many as 100 firms in each province were asked about their "confidence in tourism and if the political demonstration was having an adverse impact".
Of the respondents, 57.1 per cent said they had suffered from a drop in occupancy rates and advance bookings, while 31.6 per cent said their business performance was better in comparison with the same period last year.
As for the impact the political turmoil was having on tourism as a whole, 71 per cent of the respondents in Bangkok said it was very difficult to get around, while 72 per cent of those in Kanchanaburi said it was more difficult to sell their products. Operators in Nakhon Ratchasima and Chon Buri, meanwhile, said costs were on the rise.
As a survival tactic, 21 per cent of the respondents in Bangkok are giving away restaurant gift vouchers, while 69 per cent of the companies in the capital are calling on the government to guarantee their earnings if their businesses are hit by the political chaos. Most of the respondents also said they wanted the administration to continue promoting tourism. In addition, 79.8 per cent of them said they were confident that business would get better next year.
Apichart Intharapongpan, TAT's deputy governor for policy and planning, said the authority had also spoken to 1,400 local people in the same six provinces to try to understand their sentiments about travel during the period.
Despite the political tension, most of the participants said they would still go travelling this month. Chiang Mai was the most popular destination with 12.2 per cent, followed by Chon Buri (8.2 per cent), Rayong (6.4 per cent), Loei (6.1 per cent) and Phuket (5.2 per cent). Chiang Mai was popular because there was no political unrest there.
Of the 399 Bangkokians participating in the survey, 80.5 per cent said they would definitely take part in the protests.