The annual smog that blankets northern Thailand due to slash-and-burn agriculture in the months of March and April is less severe this year, which should give tourism operators in Chiang Mai cause for optimism but other factors weigh on their business outlook.
Chalinee Rojanaboontham, e-commerce manager at Dusit Princess Chiang Mai, said the hotel is not affected by the smog but occupancy for the Songkran holiday is still not full. Room occupancy on April 13-14 has reached 80 per cent but dips to only 50 per cent on April 15.
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Part of the reason, according to Chalinee, is that this period is a low season for Chiang Mai, unlike the peak season from late November to February.
While the smog impacts other northern provinces and rural areas of Chiang Mai, neither Chiang Mai’s downtown nor Standard Tour's business is affected, said the company's spokesperson Ampha Chanawat.
However, the Chiang Mai-based tour operator, whose main clientele is Chinese, has saw a decline in Chinese business following the zero-fee tour clampdown as some customers switched to Vietnam instead.
As well, a Chiang Mai Tour Center staff told TTG Asia that the smog is a lesser concern but the agency has not seen much business from foreign tourists, resulting in a loss of revenue. The company plans to compensate for the loss by launching tours to target the domestic market instead.