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  1. #1
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    Northern tourism dollars go up in smoke

    Northern tourism dollars go up in smoke
    Published: 25/03/2012 at 02:11 AMNewspaper section: News

    Tourism has dropped more than 50% in Chiang Mai since the annual haze began last month and blanketed many parts of the North.

    Chiang Mai Tourism Business Association secretary-general Udom Zidnayee yesterday said the haze was now a serious problem for Chiang Mai and other upper northern provinces.

    Information gathered by the association showed the number of tourists visiting Chiang Mai, a popular destination, had dropped more than 50%.

    But Mr Udom was not able to give the exact number of tourists who had visited Chiang Mai since the haze hit.

    A recent report from the Tourism Authority of Thailand said about five million tourists head for the northern capital every year.

    "I need to see more concrete action taken to deal with the haze problem," Mr Udom said. "All related agencies should urgently address a long-term plan or tourists will no longer come to Chiang Mai.

    "If we do nothing, it will definitely cause severe damage to our economy as well."

    He said with tourist numbers down so dramatically, businesses are hurting.

    Also worrying is that the haze is getting so bad that return visitors to Chiang Mai may avoid it in future. The number of tourists revisiting the province is less than 5% of the total, compared with other popular tourist provinces which get about 25%.

    The Pollution Control Department said it had found the highest level of dust particles in the air is still in Chiang Rai's Mae Sai district with 245.3 microgrammes per cubic metre compared with 437 ug/cu-m two weeks ago.

    The department yesterday measured the range of dust particles across the North at between 92.6 to 245.3 ug/cu-m. It forecast the haze would start to dissipate when storms hit.

    Meanwhile, permanent secretary for foreign affairs Sihasak Phuangketkaew will today hold talks with his Myanmar counterpart to seek cooperation on solving the haze that is causing serious health problems for people in the North, Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said.

    Mr Surapong said the Foreign Ministry had recently sent a letter to the Myanmar government asking it to help Thailand deal with the haze problem but has not yet received a response.

    He said that was why he assigned Mr Sihasak to hold talks about the haze with his Myanmar counterpart after a scheduled meeting with Myanmar businessmen and investors.

    Mr Surapong also asked for cooperation from Laos to help tackle the haze problem during his visit to Vientiane last week and received full backing.

    The problem of regional haze in the dry season is expected to be tabled at the 20th Association of the Southeast Asian Nations Summit in Phnom Penh on April 3-4, Mr Surapong said.

    BANGKOK POST

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    Re: Northern tourism dollars go up in smoke

    Smog situation improves in Chiang Mai

    Nopniwat Krailerg

    Chiang Mai Governor ML. Panadda Diskul reported recently that the smog in the province had improved with PM10 levels better in many areas of the Northern Province. However, he noted that it was not time to rest and the campaign to fight fires and for clean air would continue. Local officials, amphurs, village headmen and many others were asked to help join the campaign in fighting smog in the province in a bid to reduce the smog and haze affecting the province for the past 2 months. He added that the upcoming Songkran Festival would see many visitors to Chiang Mai and that it was hoped good weather would help clear the air.

    "Haze in the region has affected the general public. It is also a major obstacle to the travel community. Studies show that without efforts to reduce it, it is likely to increase every year. Mae Jo University is assisting in offering communities information on the cultivation of the Pho mushroom and Pak Wann because many villagers believe that burning the forest will result in greater production of the expensive mushrooms, contributing greatly to the haze. Other programs will be implemented to reduce the burning of fields by farmers.

    PM10 levels or Particulate Matter was measured below the government’s maximum recommended level of 120 on March 30, with City Hall reporting 115.3 micrograms per cubic meter on March 30 and Yuparaj Wittayalai school at 94.7 micrograms per cubic meter.

    CHIANG-MAI MAIL

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    Re: Northern tourism dollars go up in smoke

    it was bad this year compared to others

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