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Thailand: More holidays in 2006 expected to boost tourism industry
[January 05, 2006]

Thailand: More holidays in 2006 expected to boost tourism industry

(Thai Press Reports Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)Section: Business News - Hotel and airline operators are upbeat about prospects in 2006 - there are twice the number of long holidays this year than in 2005, which they hope translate into more people taking to the road, The Nation reports.

According to Tassapon Bijleveld, chief executive of Thai AirAsia Co, in 2006 there will be 15 long holidays - meaning holidays that extend weekends by falling on a Friday or Monday - compared to about seven in 2005.

As a result, the airline expects domestic tourism to grow 20 per cent this year from last year. Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) projections are a little more realistic, as it expects Thais to make 79 million domestic trips, up 4 per cent from 76 million trips in 2005.

Those predictions were made despite some domestic tour operators and hotel operators in Bangkok predicting that the cost of domestic travel would increase 10 per cent from last year.

Travellers are expected to use more budget airlines this year as well. Tassapon said that to cash in on the expected travel bug, budget carrier AirAsia would start new domestic routes to the resort province of Krabi in late January with two flights a day, and Surat Thani by early February with the same number of flights. Moreover, the airline plans to add a number of flights from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Hat Yai, Phuket, Nakhon Si Thammarat and Udon Thani.

The number of passengers at all domestic airlines travelling to Hat Yai is expected to surge by 90 per cent compared to 2005, while Phuket will see 40 per cent growth and travel to the rest of the provinces will grow between 20 and 40 per cent, said Tasapon.

TAT's governor, Juthamas Siriwan, said the authority would implement its 2006 campaign - Grand Invitation - and organise various events throughout the year. It will hold the Royal Trophy: Europe VS Asia Golf Championship in Chon Buri from January 5 to 7. Chinese New Year will follow on January 29-February 3.

TAT will hold the Grand Bangkok International Film Festival from February 17 to 27. In March, the agency will run the Grand Music and Dance Festival on Pattaya Beach from March 17 to 19.

The Grand International Kites Festival will be held in Hua Hin from March 11 to 15, and the Grand Songkran Festival will be held between April 13 and 15. On May 11, the Royal Ploughing Ceremony will be held in Bangkok.

In June, the royal barge procession will be held for Bangkok's 60th anniversary celebrations of His Majesty the King's accession to the throne. And on July 5 through 11, the Grand Candle Festival and International Candle Carving Competition will be held in Bangkok and Ubon Ratchathani.

In the month of August, the high point will be the celebration of Her Majesty the Queen's birthday on the 12th.

The Grand International Boat Races are scheduled for September 9 and 10 in Muang Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya.

Come October and there will be a another royal barge procession during the Royal Kathin ceremony on the Chao Praya River in Bangkok.

In November tourists and locals can also look forward to Andrea Bocelli's royal concert at the world heritage site in Muang Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya and the Grand Loi Krathong Festival.

The grand opening of Royal Ratchaphruek 2006 will be held in Chiang Mai from November 1 to 12.

On December 5 is the celebration of HM the King's birthday. The Grand Jazz Festival in Bangkok will be held on December 19 and 20. And finally, the year will end with the New Year's celebrations around the country.

But not everybody thinks travel will pick up this year despite the extra hullabaloo. Chalong Anunyapisit, general manager of Radisson Hotel Bangkok, predicted that in spite of more long holidays, people might reconsider vacationing due to the high cost of transportation.

Instead, she said, people would save their money or buy luxury goods rather than spend it on travel.

As for overseas tourism, Thais are expected to travel to neighbouring countries, especially Singapore, Hong Kong and Southern China.

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