Man-made and cultural attractions are the focus for Nakhon Sawan province to reach 5 billion baht in tourism revenue with 2 million visitors by 2021.
Surin Nilkamhaeng, president of Nakhon Sawan Tourist Business Association, said social media has encouraged more tourists, especially younger generations, to visit the province this year. Pasan has become a favourite, attracting 5,000 visitors during weekends.
He said the popular TV period drama series Krong Karm, which shows the livelihood of people and locations in Chumsaeng district, draws tourists to visit shooting locations such as old wooden houses and sugar palm orchards.
Mr Surin said the association plans to work with the Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration next year to develop community-based tourism in Nakhon Sawan.
On Dec 7, the province will welcome a caravan of 50 vehicles bringing some 100 tour operators from Guizhou, China to plan travel packages, particularly for religious tourism, which is popular among Chinese travellers, he said.
Just 239 kilometres from Bangkok, the province is suited to either one-day trips or overnight stays, said Anan Sridang, director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand's Nakhon Sawan office.
The province has 4,000 hotel rooms with an average occupancy rate estimated at 54% this year, up from 52% in 2018.
In the first 10 months, the province welcomed 1.6 million tourists, up 2.6% year-on-year, contributing 3.23 billion baht in income, up 4.6%.
A 4% rise in tourist arrivals is anticipated this year, up from 1.8 million in 2018, with a 5% increase in income from 3.8 billion baht. Most tourists are Thais, consisting of business travellers, millennials, families and senior citizens, with average spending of 1,200 baht per person per day.
The agency expects developing existing attractions and adding new tourism products to help the province achieve the goal of 5 billion baht from tourism and 2 million visitors in the next two years.
Mr Anan said more new tourism routes will be introduced next year for travellers who might be concerned about haze pollution in provinces in the North from February to May.
These routes will include popular sacred places and areas where tourists can make merit and pray for prosperity at famed religious attractions such as the Pak Nam Pho Na Pha God-Goddess Shrine.
The province, home to Thai-Chinese communities, will host Chinese New Year festivities during Jan 18-29 next year. The events are expected to draw 300,000 visitors, up from 200,000 in 2019, with income rising 2-3% from 500 million baht.