23 May 2024

Hotels rooms in Chiang Mai are currently about 70% booked, many of them by foreign tourists, despite the worsening PM2.5 problem, according to Patsin Sawetrat, director of the Tourism Authority Authority’s Chiang Mai office.

While admitting that the smoke from forest fires may affect tourism, she said that it occurs during the dry season every year and she expects increased hotel occupancy during the Songkran festival, from April 12 to April 16.

Expected revenue from tourism during Songkran in Chiang Mai is estimated at about 1.2 billion baht, she said, adding that the TAT office has performed a “sacred” water ceremony at nine temples to bless the city and its people.

The “sacred” water will fill 17,728 bottles, to be distributed to people in the city as an auspicious item. A similar ceremony has been held in the province for the last four years.

Meanwhile, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Patcharawat Wongsuwan called an urgent meeting of a high-level committee to address the PM2.5 problem in Chiang Mai after the regular cabinet meeting today.

In Chiang Mai, Governor Nirat Pongsitthithavorn ordered all local administrative organisations to make available at least three clean air rooms at each organisation. Similar facilities will be made available in all hospitals.

He said that health officials have been told to give special attention to more than 400,000 people regarded as “fragile” and at high risk from PM2.5 pollution.

These include more than 100,000 children under five, over 3,000 pregnant women, over 6,000 bed-ridden patients, more than 4,000 patients with asthma, about 250,000 disabled and elderly people and about 1,600 people with heart disease.

People have been advised to wear face masks when they are outdoors and stay indoors as much as possible until Thursday.