Pornchai Jitnavasathian, chairman of the Tourism Council of Chiang Mai, said today (July 25) that the much lighter inbound traffic obviously resulted from the Land Transport Department’s ban on visiting motorists from driving beyond the province of entry. The measure took effect on June 27.
The measure affected the number of driving Chinese tourists who normally arrived in caravans through the R3A route from southern China via Laos and Chiang Rai’s Chiang Khong district to Chiang Mai and had high purchasing power, he said.
Before the ban, most of these visitors went to Chiang Mai and other destinations deeper in the country including Bangkok, Mr Pornchai said.
Previously, each visiting vehicle from southern China carried three or more tourists who spent at least B5,000 each per day, Mr Pornchai said. He estimated that the declining arrivals cost Chiang Mai B1 million a day in tourism income.
Boontha Chailert, president of the Chiang Mai Tourism Business Association, said unless the ban was reviewed, 3,000-5,000 workers in the tourism sector in the northern province would lose their jobs in three months.
Tourism authorities in Chiang Mai would call for a review of the ban and oppose other future conditions that would add inconveniences to visiting motorists, Mr Boontha said. He cited possible requirements for them to seek entry permission at least 30 days in advance and exit the country through the same border pass.
The Land Transport Department imposed the rule after an influx of visiting motorists resulted in a spike in traffic accidents and waste management problems. Besides, the merits of this group of tourists were questioned since many of them did not stay at hotels.
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