Mae Hong Son Battles Tourism Slump Amid Heavy Smog


Mae Hong Son province is reportedly facing a significant downturn in tourism due to the ongoing heavy smog from forest fires, leading to a substantial drop in bookings and the temporary suspension of flights by Bangkok Airways, the sole commercial airline servicing the route.

Officials said the smog has not only affected visibility but also positioned the province among the world’s most polluted areas, causing travelers to opt for seaside destinations since late February. The Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Mae Hong Son office reports a decrease in hotel occupancy rates and anticipates a continued slump during the Songkran holiday due to persistent haze and a preference for cooler seaside locations.

Optimism, however, remains for a tourism revival during the rainy season, starting in May, with the expectation of increased bookings for nature-related activities. Efforts are underway to promote new travel routes and events, aiming for a 10-15% increase in tourism expenditure this year. In 2023, Mae Hong Son welcomed 1.1 million tourists, generating over 5.8 billion baht in revenue, an improvement from 2019 figures.

Local tourism leaders are calling for urgent action to address the smog crisis and propose an expansion of Pai Airport to accommodate larger aircraft, enhancing access to Mae Hong Son’s most visited town and supporting the government’s ambition to establish Thailand as an aviation hub.

The preceding is a press release from the Thai Government PR Department.

Goongnang Suksawat
Goong Nang is a News Translator who has worked professionally for multiple news organizations in Thailand for many years and has worked with The Pattaya News for more than four years. Specializes primarily in local news for Phuket, Pattaya, and also some national news, with emphasis on translation between Thai to English and working as an intermediary between reporters and English-speaking writers. Originally from Nakhon Si Thammarat, but lives in Phuket and Krabi except when commuting between the three.