Chiang Mai’s tourism leaders are calling for urgent government action to address the city’s hazardous smog problem as the peak season approaches. The group is advocating for the expedited passage of the Clean Air Act and the implementation of effective measures to mitigate pollution, particularly from agricultural practices.
Tourism Council President Punlop Saejew has highlighted the complex nature of the PM2.5 haze issue, stressing the need for a collaborative approach involving incentives for compliance and penalties for violations within the proposed legislation. The council also suggests that the government should reward farmers who abstain from slash-and-burn techniques by supporting their crop production and finding alternative livelihoods for those who rely on forest burning for income.
To fund these pollution-reducing initiatives, a proposal for a dedicated fund has been put forth, which could offer tax incentives to investors. This fund would also support the transformation of local agricultural practices to more environmentally friendly methods and provide the necessary equipment to help control burning and smog.
The private sector, including Chiang Mai University, is now working on technological solutions like air purifier towers, and the province has introduced a reservation system for controlled agricultural burning to better manage and reduce the incidents of unregulated fires.
Despite these efforts and the return of tourists to the region, there is concern among industry operators about the long-term impact of the smog on Chiang Mai’s image, particularly with long-stay visitors and digital nomads who tend to leave during the smog’s peak season.