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11 Apr 2005

Thai Economy

Songkran, 2005: Bangkok Residents Spending Bt18 Billion

Songkran holiday this year will last for five days, from April 13th to the 17th, which is quite favorable to travel. However, the atmosphere for tourism in Thailand has been plagued with numerous negative factors since late last year. Among them are the Tsunami disaster, surging oil prices, drought and the unrest in the three southernmost provinces.

Worse, the recent powerful earthquake and triple bomb blasts in Hat Yai and Muang District of Songkhla have not helped the situation. It is undeniable that tourism during the 'Festival of Water' will be adversely affected by the two latest incidents.

To obtain an overview of Songkran-related businesses and tourism, Kasikorn Research Center (KRC) thus conducted a qualitative poll on behavior for Songkran festival participation and holiday spending of Bangkok residents this year, conducted between April 23-30, 2005, using a sampling group of 1,478 persons.

The findings show that the number of respondents who intend to participate in major Songkran-related activities has risen over last year. Among them are merit-making, giving offerings to monks, merit-making ritual for late ancestors and water sprinkle on Buddha images. Other activities cited by those polled include water dousing merriment, cleansing rituals for elders' hands to seek their blessings, and, of course, having parties with family members and friends.

Based on the poll, average expenditures for these activities during Songkran Festival will be around Bt1,652.21 per person. However, only 31.0 percent of those surveyed cited that they would observe the festivities. Thus, it is estimated that only Bt1.7 billion will circulate into Songkran-related businesses in Bangkok. These would include businesses related to offerings given to monks, flowers and garlands, scented water, talc, Songkran-festival clothing - including colorful Moh Hom shirts, water guns, water bowls, water buckets, etc.

The survey also revealed that travel within the country during the Festival of Water this year would be less active. Most travelers will be those returning to their hometowns and visiting their relatives for Songkran. Such travelers still show steady growth. Meanwhile, overseas trips this year will be more active than in previous years.

Based on the poll, the majority of respondents (59.1 percent) mentioned that they would make trips upcountry to return to their hometowns and visit relatives. Of this number, 76.6 percent of them also said that they would purchase gifts for relatives. Among the most often-mentioned gifts were:

1. Clothing

2. Sweets

3. Toys and utensils

Expenditures for buying presents will be around Baht1,298.30 per shopper, which leads to the estimation that around Baht2.3 billion will be generated to department stores and souvenir shops in Bangkok before the Songkran festival.

The total spending of those who will be returning home upcountry (including expenses for travel, gifts, food and drink during travel, and participation in Songkran festivities upcountry) will average around Baht3,006.10 per person, which totals around Baht6.8 billion.

As for those who intend to go sightseeing during Songkran this year, around 11.1 percent indicated such plans, which represents a drop from the past. Most of those indicating they intended to go sightseeing, or 70 percent of them, will take overnight trips. Of this amount, only 6.1 percent will be purchasing tours from tour companies, with the majority preferring to travel personally.

Domestic tourism venues that are the highest popular with Bangkok residents for Songkran this year include those in the North, where Chiang Mai is the center, followed by:
  • Seaside spots in the Eastern region, with Pattaya and Koh Chang being very popular.
  • Seaside resorts along the Gulf coast such as Cha-am, Hua Hin and Samui which are seen as equally popular to resorts along the Andaman coast such as Phuket and Krabi.

Moreover, other venues such as Kanchanaburi, Nakhon Nayok, Nakhon Ratchasima, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, Nakhon Pathom, etc., are also seen as popular.

The average expected expense during overnight trips came to Baht3,398.77 per person, and the average round trip cost will be Baht1,173.81 per person, making the total expenditures for upcountry trips around Baht1,200 million.

The proportion of those who intend to travel overseas during Songkran this year is only 0.4 percent. Most of such travelers will be buying package tours with plane tickets and accommodation at special prices. Destinations seen as popular during Songkran this year include China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan and Australia. Expenditures for overseas trips will total around Baht6 billion.

The proportion of those who choose to stay in Bangkok during Songkran came to 29.4 percent. Most such respondents plan to participate in activities outside their homes such as eating out, going to movies, shopping, going to zoos or outdoor fun parks, etc. The average expense for these activities will be around Baht1,791.83 per person, with the total value of around Baht2 billion generated for service businesses that support these activities.

Totally, the expenses of those who reside in Bangkok and those who have residences both in Bangkok and upcountry during Songkran will be around Baht18 billion.

Thai Economy