Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Chiang Mai, Thailand, struggles in absence of international tourists

Chiang Mai, Thailand (CNN) — Before the pandemic, Chiang Mai received around four million international visitors a year, according to Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) figures.

But the economic effects of Covid-19 on this tourist city and province of the same name in northern Thailand have been nothing short of devastating, with many travel-related businesses closing and thousands of people losing their jobs.

It’s estimated that from January to June 2021, the tourism sector of Chiang Mai province lost over 60 billion baht (about $1.8 billion) in revenue, according to Watcharayu Kuawong, director of the Chiang Mai office of the TAT.

But relief may finally be on the way for operators of tourist-dependent businesses that have managed to hold on. Thailand’s tentative moves to reopen its borders continue, with the government announcing plans to welcome vaccinated travelers to five more destinations in October — Bangkok, Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan

Chonburi and Chiang Mai. Details of the reopening plan are thin at the moment, but it may bear similarities to the Phuket Sandbox and Samui Plus programs. Launched in July, they allow vaccinated tourists to stay on the islands without going into quarantine — though they are still subject to some restrictions.

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