Songkran spending likely dampened by ban on water fights

Thai consumer spending during the Songkran holiday in 2021 is expected to plunge to a nine-year low at 112 billion baht, lower than the earlier estimate of 140 billion baht, the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC) said Thursday.

Thai citizens are choosing to spend this time staying with their family “after the government has suspended water-splashing activities,” said the university president Thanavath Phonvichai, following a survey of 1,256 households.

The Covid-19 outbreak would put a downward pressure on consumer spending despite the government’s incentives, he added, forcing Thais to spend less and shorten many holiday trips to just five or even three days.

The latest forecast put this year’s Songkran spending 16.6 per cent lower than 2019. No figures were available for 2020, as the holiday was completely canceled under lockdown.

“Government measures are still unable to stimulate the economy.” Thanavath added, urging the government to continue its economic stimulus, and allow the private sector to import Covid-19 vaccines to accelerate inoculation.

He also recommended that the government hold value-added tax at 7 per cent for at least two more years. The government Wednesday stated that there were no plans to raise the tax, in an apparent response to recent rumours of a planned hike to 10 per cent.

Revellers use water guns to spray at one another as they celebrate the Buddhist New Year, locally known as Songkran, in Bangkok on April 14, 2019. (Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP)
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