“Tourist arrivals plummet in Thailand amid credit crunch”, reads the headline on AP news.

Thailand is now starting to head into its “high” tourist season which goes approximately from December to late March. It is the first time for me to be in Thailand during the high season. I feel a little sorry for tourist operators, who seem to have to rely on a fairly short period for most of their business for the year.

Some businesses even close up for the low season, which coincides with the rainy season. Many hotels and tourist operators use the low season to renovate and spruce up their businesses in anticipation for the high season.

Actually being in Thailand right now, it seems pretty busy to me. However AP reports that arrivals for September are down 21 percent.

“We will probably have a very bad high season,” said Oliver Martin of industry body the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA).

“You’re going to have it across the board. It’s going to be everyone — from the luxury resort right down to a small tour operator, a mom-and-pop shop or a restaurant,” he added.

The article also points to the fact that the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) focuses most of marketing efforts on trying to lure wealthy and package tourists to Thailand. I haven’t seen any numbers for Thailand, but I have seen numbers for backpackers in Australia and they can pump just as much money into the economy as package tourists, as they tend to stay for longer periods and stay at hotels run by locals, rather than multi-national hotel chains.

Thailand is also used as a base for Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia, so I am sure numbers are well down in those countries too. Fortunately for the people who are still planning to travel, you should be able to get some nice discounts on your accommodation.