18th Feb 2020
The government of Thailand is mulling over the extension of the Songkran festival by another two days to boost activity and consumer spending, as the impact of the deadly virus cut deep into the country’s tourism industry.
Thailand Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha announced on Monday that the government is considering two additional holidays for the Thai new year or Songkran which officially begins on April 13.
If approved, the public holiday would start on April 11 and end on April 19.
However, the two additional days would not be free, as they will be carried over from other long-period holidays in the second half of the year.
Chan-o-cha said the plan is still pending approval by the Cabinet.
“The long period will encourage more people to travel and spend money to give the tourism industry a boost after a sharp drop of tourist numbers from China,” he said.
During the first few days of February, Thailand saw tourist arrivals dramatically declined over fears of the coronavirus that originated in the province of Hubei in China.
The majority of inbound tourists are Chinese nationals, and the coronavirus effect has since resulted in a 43-percent drop in Chinese tourist arrivals in the first nine days of February alone.
The death toll in China alone has already risen to 1,873 while confirmed infections stood at 71,000.