High pollution levels in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai and surrounding provinces are keeping tourists away and alarming residents, with the government urging residents on Monday (April 10) to avoid outdoor activities.
For several weeks last month, the city topped air quality information platform IQAir’s global poor air quality rankings, ahead of Lahore, Pakistan and New Delhi, in India.
Chiang Mai, known for its scenic mountain views, temples and chic cafes, received 10.8 million visitors in 2019 before the pandemic, but hotel bookings in the city have fallen to 45% occupancy , Thai Hotel Association Northern Chapter Chairman Phunut Thanalaopanich told Reuters. Monday.
That’s well below the expected 80% to 90% ahead of this week’s Thai New Year holiday, known as Songkran.
“It (has) impacted my business… people don’t come, (they) can’t see the view,” said Sunat Insao, 53, who sells orange juice.
Faced with deteriorating air quality in the north, Thailand’s health ministry has urged the public to avoid outdoor activities and wear masks capable of filtering out particles.
Chang Mai, Thailand’s third-largest city, scored 289 on IQAir’s Air Quality Index (AQI) in March, which measures the level of inhalable fine particles in the air.
On Monday, it had fallen to 171, but was still 19 times higher than the level recommended by the World Health Organization.
“You can smell (the dust) on your face… I clean my face, I see the tampon and I’m like, ‘This is really, really dirty,'” said Fernanda Gonzalez, 27, who was from the Mexico.
Authorities have blamed a combination of forest fires and crop burning in Thailand and neighboring countries.
Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said last week he was coordinating with Laos and Myanmar to reduce hotspots in the border area to reduce cross-border haze.
Pathsharasakon Po, 36, a Chiang Mai resident, said she was worried about allergies or even cancer.
“It’s getting worse year by year,” Pathsharasakon said.