Tourism surged back to life at the Sadao immigration checkpoint, as visitors from Malaysia and Singapore thronged to this southern border province on Friday, the first day the Thailand Pass requirement for international visitors was scrapped.
The atmosphere at the checkpoint on the border with Malaysia’s Kedah state was lively on Friday morning after two years of being depressed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Tour buses, private cars and passenger buses operating between Malaysia and Hat Yai district have been seen continually arriving to Songkhla via the checkpoint since Friday morning.
About 5,000 visitors from Malaysia and Singapore are expected to visit Dan Nok in Sadao district and Hat Yai by the end of Friday.
Officials predict that the number of foreign arrivals to Songkhla could increase by 100,000 this month due to the scrapping of Thailand Pass registration requirements, the face mask mandate and the extension of operating hours for entertainment venues to 2am.
Sitthipong Sitthiphatprapha, chairman of the Songkhla Hotel Operators Association and adviser to the Rak Dan Nok Business Operators Association, said businesses welcome the extension of operating hours.
Dan Nok is popular among foreign tourists, and more than 90% of patrons to entertainment venues in the area are foreigners, Mr Sitthipong said.
Income generated from the extension of operating hours could increase from 2 million baht a day to 3 million baht, he said.
The overall economy is also set to benefit. Shops, markets, eateries, accommodations and other services expect to see their businesses thrive.
According to Mr Sitthipong, there are some 10,000 rooms available in Dan Nok, able to generate over 5 million baht in circulation a day.
“The local economy and cross-border trade with Malaysia will gradually improve as business in Songkhla returns to normal after the scrapping of the Thailand Pass and Covid-19 insurance requirement’’ said Mr Sitthipong.