The controversial business of elephant tourism shows no signs of trouble in Thailand. The country is on a fast track to make up for pandemic losses.
An elephant camp in Thailand has purchased six new jumbos to welcome tourists and returning Chinese visitors, offering activities from elephant rides to elephant showers, the owner said.
Pang Chang Kamala Elephant Camp on the resort island of Phuket is also adding programmes such as elephant care due to a rise in bookings after the Lunar New Year, camp owner Wittaya Taweeros told Reuters.
“As the number of tourists has increased, we’re ready to welcome them, also with our newly bought elephants,” Wittaya said.
With 25 elephants now, the camp can receive 300 tourists per day, up from 200, he added.
Wittaya said he was confident that more tourists will come. “We’ve already got 60% to 70% bookings after the Lunar New Year from the same agent we worked with before the pandemic,” he said.
Thailand’s vital tourism sector is seeing a quick rebound after the lifting of COVID restrictions last year, with the government is expecting 25 million foreign visitors in 2023, including five million from China as it reopens.
China’s reopening raises hopes for the return of Chinese visitors, who accounted for nearly a third of Thailand’s 40 million foreign tourist arrivals in pre-pandemic 2019.
(Reporting by Kwang JrapornKuhakan, Writing by Orathai Sriring; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)
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