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BANGKOK 24 May 2019 03:46
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Tourism To Pick Up As Floodwater Drains

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Tourism to pick up as floodwater drains

Bangkok Post

Dec. 20--Tourism and retail operators in the South may only be slightly affected by the floods that hit downtown Hat Yai at the weekend, but the long-term outlook remains doubtful as businesses rely heavily on tourists from Malaysia and Singapore.

The floods from the heavy downpours that have hit eight provinces in the South over the last two weeks have resulted in 11 deaths and caused several billion baht worth of damage to property. In Hat Yai, the bill could reach 500 million baht.

Hat Yai is still being overlooked by Thai tourists because of the violence in the southernmost provinces. The average occupancy rate at popular hotels, for example, has declined to 30-50 percent, compared to at least 70 percent before the southern unrest.

"Not only the impact of floods but also other economic worries will definitely cause Hat Yai's GDP to shrink this year," said Netr Chantrasmi, managing director of the local retailer Diana Department Store Group Plc.

Although the floodwaters began draining away yesterday morning, areas on the outskirts of the town were still under water, he said.

"Flood victims will use money to repair houses as a priority, and that will significantly reduce spending on gifts and entertainment in the coming holidays," Mr Netr said.

Major hotels reported cancellations for rooms booked for the week, but hoteliers remained optimistic that the situation would improve at the weekend.

According to a market survey of four hotels -- JB Hat Yai, Lee Garden, Sakura and Central Sukhontha Hotel -- Malaysian and Singaporean customers in particular had cancelled between two and 10 rooms per hotel. Some seminar groups have also cancelled.

Suthep Keasangh, director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand in the southern region, said the agency has informed TAT offices in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore as well as tour operators that the situation was back to the normal, especially in downtown Hat Yai.

He said the TAT and private businesses would stage a special New Year event, Night Paradise Hat Yai Countdown 2006, from Dec 29-31, to attract visitors.

The celebrations are expected to draw more than 700,000 local and Malaysian tourists to the South, to help reverse falling visitor numbers.

Somchart Pimthanapoonporn, president of the Hat Yai-Songkhla Hotel Business Association, said that no one had cancelled hotel reservations for next week.

"We're planning to organise parties and events to celebrate Christmas and New Year's Eve next week," he said, pinning his hope on no more rain over the next couple of days.

Vichit Na Ranong, chairman of the Tourism Council of Thailand, said that overall, the floods had had a minor effect on tourism in the South, but that repairs to transport facilities and tourist attractions should be completed before next week.

Because of several negative factors this year, Mr Vichit said Thailand would fall short of its original target of 13.38 million foreign tourists. The number of arrivals would probably reach 11.8 million, equal to the total in 2004.

The flood is the latest thorn in the sides of people in the South, according to Mr Netr. Not only do people have less income from rubber plantations and are shouldering higher fuel costs, but they have also now lost assets in the floods.

"The Bank of Thailand should offer a lower interest rate for large corporations to prevent them from the possible laying off of workers," he said. He added that several hotels have started laying off workers and many entertainment venues and restaurants in the South had shut down.

By Sukanya Jitpleecheep, Chatrudee Theparat and Vichayant Boonchote

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Didn't Hat Yai have terrible flooding a year or two ago as well?

Seems they need to do something more long term about drainage.

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I think alot of cities in the country have that same problem. :o Look at Chiang Mai when it floods.


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