Hotel bookings down by nearly a half as tourist numbers plunge in Chiang Mai

Hotel bookings, including forward bookings are down by nearly a half for July and August this year in Chiang Mai due to an decreasing number of Chinese and Middle Eastern tourists.

The figures come from the Northern Thai Hotel Association who claims that occupancy in hotels is only 40% for the two months compared with 70-80% for the same two months of last year.

Mrs. La-Iad Bungsrithong, President of the Northern Thai Hotel Association told Prachachat Business that tourism conditions in Chiang Mai this year are “sluggish,” describing them as the worst in 10 years. Hotels in Chiang Mai are said to cutting prices by up to 30% in an attempt to woo back tourists to the city and the province as a whole.

“Despite the slowdown, most hotels continue to support the business and there have been no layoffs in any way, “Mrs. Bungsrithong said.

While there have been multiple reports from across Thailand about tourists numbers plummeting in places such as Phuket and Pattaya, Mrs. Bungsrithong pointed directly to publicity around the burning season smog in Chiang Mai as being a contributing factor.  Bungsrithong noted that the downwards trend started in April and May when tourists numbers dropped 15%.

She was optimistic moving forward, saying that the tourism situation is likely to improve in Chiang Mai by “speeding up a plan to find markets in ASEAN to replace the missing tourists.”

The occupancy rates should be noted in context, however, with the association saying that there are now over 70,000 rooms in Chiang Mai in 2019 compared to around 60,000 rooms in the period from 2014 to 2018. That means that the drop in tourist numbers are not as bad as the drop occupancy rates may make it seem as there are more hotel rooms.

Also, while average occupancy in hotels may be down, the numbers don’t account for the growing number of travelers who use Airbnb to stay in Chiang Mai instead. There’s no doubt that tourist numbers are down but it’s highly unlikely they’re down anywhere near 40% or 50%.