Tourism in Kanchanaburi has gone quiet since provincial authorities suddenly ordered the closure of hotels and resorts to prevent the spread of Covid-19, leaving vendors bemoaning the plunge in their income.
At the River Kwai bridge in Muang district, usually a magnet for tourists, vendors are the only people visible, setting out stalls filled with souvenirs and other goods in hopes of attracting a local stroller or two.
Kanchanaburi governor Jirakiat Bhumisawasdi took many by surprise when he ordered the hotel closures, effective from Jan 14, as the province had recorded only five Covid infections to date. Two of those people have already recovered.
Hotels that currently have guests are being allowed to remain open until those guests check out, but new guests are not allowed. Mr Jirakiat took the action to reduce the risk of people from other high-risk provinces bringing the virus to Kanchanaburi.
Prior to the order, tourism in the province was already quieter than usual, as central government authorities have been urging people to avoid all interprovincial travel unless it is essential.
The abrupt decision has been a blow to small-scale operators of tourism-related businesses. Many are wondering how they can earn enough to feed their families and continue their businesses.
Vendors in the area around the River Kwai bridge said that the first wave of Covid travel curbs last year had hit their businesses hard, with their income dropping by 90%. Now the second wave is inflicting more economic harm. Previously, they earned 200-300 baht a day. Now, their income is zero.