SONGKHLA: Hatyai, a city located near the Thai-Malaysian border is now lively and crowded with tourists, especially from Malaysia.

The city has become the travel destination of choice for many Malaysians, especially during the current school holidays in Malaysia.

Following the recovery of the Covid-19 situation and the re-opening of the Thailand-Malaysia border since April 1, the influx of tourists has increased and the city of Hatyai is now coming back to life after a two- year break due to the pandemic.

The Khlong Hae Floating Market, a popular destination, is once again crowded with tourists, while hotels in Hatyai and the surrounding area are fully booked.

The president of the Hatyai Songkhla Hotels Association, Sitthipong Sitthiprapha said the influx of Malaysian tourists, especially during the school holidays, was very encouraging.

This in turn helped boost the local economy which was severely affected when the border gates were closed and various restrictions were imposed to curb the spread of Covid-19 since the beginning of 2020.

“Since the school holidays in Malaysia started from Sept 3rd to 5th , more than 20,000” Malaysian tourists entered Thailand through the three entrances to Songkhla, namely Sadao, Bukit Kayu Hitam and Ban Prakop.

“The increase in tourist arrivals will stimulate post-Covid-19 economic recovery,“ Sitthipong told Bernama.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Hotel Association (MAH) vice president Datuk Khoo Boo Lim said Malaysians, especially those living in states bordering Thailand, like to vacation in Hatyai during the school holidays.

“A short and cheap trip, delicious food and cheap accommodation are among the attractions drawing Malaysians to Hatyai,“ he said.

In the first eight months of this year, Thailand recorded more than 4.6 million international tourist arrivals with Malaysians topping the list with 647,648 people.

Thailand expects Malaysian tourists to reach one million by the end of this year. - Bernama