Songkhla’s tourism industry is grappling with the repercussions of a highly volatile Malaysian ringgit, as the exchange rate between the Thai baht and Malaysian currency has now reached 7.59 baht to the ringgit.
This significant development has resulted in a decrease in the number of Malaysians crossing the border into Thailand for their holidays. The ringgit’s gradual depreciation against the baht over the past decade has significantly impacted border trade in southern Thai provinces like Satun and Narathiwat. The situation has also taken a toll on Thais residing or operating businesses near the Malaysian border, exacerbating the economic strain caused by the devalued ringgit.
Local business owners in Songkhla, including Nichamon Chumanut, have observed a decline in Malaysian tourists visiting the province, primarily due to the ringgit’s unpredictable nature. Moreover, the recent commencement of the new school term in Malaysia has further contributed to a quieter tourism scene in Songkhla during this period. Nonetheless, Nichamon remains hopeful that a strengthening ringgit and the formation of tour groups could attract more Malaysian visitors to the area.
In response to the fluctuating currency, several stores situated at Samila Beach in Songkhla have made the decision to only accept Thai baht. The conversion rate of one ringgit to 7.59 baht on certain days has rendered it less favorable for Malaysian tourists to make purchases. As a result, tourists from Malaysia have been purchasing fewer items from clothing and souvenir stores at Samila Beach, given that an item priced at 100 baht is equivalent to 14 Malaysian ringgit.
The impact of the volatile Malaysian ringgit on Songkhla’s tourism industry underscores the delicate relationship between currency fluctuations and cross-border travel. With businesses making strategic adjustments and hoping for an improved exchange rate, the region remains cautiously optimistic about attracting more visitors from across the border in the future.