Songkran holidays brought records for the tourism industry in Thailand with half a million foreign travellers visiting the Kingdom to enjoy splashing and the various festivities linked to the Thai New Year.
The Thai government can certainly smile. Songkran 2018 turned into a huge success. According to first accounting from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, the country recorded up to 506,136 foreigners during the Songkran festival, a number up by 6.2% over the previous year. Songkran this year run from April 12 to 16 with government offices and some companies giving an additional day on April 17.
More encouraging were spending during the same period. The Ministry of Tourism and Sports registered some THB24.65 billion (US$792.5 million) in tourism income, up by 16% compared to Songkran in 2017.
Most foreign travellers came from Asia with China remaining the biggest incoming market.
Domestic tourism was also up and even more strongly than international tourism. The Ministry accounted 3.1 million trips generated by Thai travellers who spent THB10.4 billion (US$334 million). These numbers are respectively up by 12.4% and 20.5% over 2017. According to data from the Ministry, 1.94 million trips were made to major cities, with domestic travellers spending THB8 billion, up 14.9% and 21.4% over Songkran 2017.
Although these numbers show a remarkable growth in tourist arrivals, proving more than ever that tourism to Thailand is a success story, it is likely that the performance has been a bit inflated by external factors. To remember, Songkran 2017 took place in a mourning time following the passing over of revered late King Bhumibol Adulyadej in October 2016.
Although being organised, Songkran 2017 took however a low profile with most Thai staying home or just visiting families without taking part in the celebrations.
Songkran generated also another record, however less satisfactory. For decades, the Thai New Year long week-end has been considered as the most dead-fatal for holidaymakers. the “Seven Most Dangerous Days” as often named in the Kingdom lived up to its reputation.
Despite stricter controls, the accumulated road death toll during the “seven most dangerous days” of Songkran jumped to 418 this year, up about 7% on last year while the total of injured people reached 3,897 people (up by 2.5%), according to statistics provided by the Road Safety Centre.