Destinations Asia

Thailand Tourism Could Benefit If Authorities End Emergency Decree

Mar 15, 2014 12:00 pm

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Getting rid of the emergency decree in Thailand would enable travelers to avoid current travel insurance restrictions on visits to the country, but tourists will only come back in great numbers when there is stability.

— Dennis Schaal

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Sakchai Lalit  / Associated Press

In this photo taken Jan. 15, 2014, anti-government protesters gather during a rally led by former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban at Ratchabrasong intersection in Bangkok, Thailand. Sakchai Lalit / Associated Press

Lifting the emergency decree, which is being considered by the Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order (CMPO), will give the tourism sector some much-needed respite, according to an expert.

The CMPO has announced it will recommend to the cabinet at its weekly meeting on Tuesday not to extend the decree, which expires on March 22 after being enforced for 60 days.

If the decree is discontinued, it will be replaced with the more lenient Internal Security Act (ISA).

The current decree allows security authorities to detain suspects without charge for up to 30 days.

Until Sunday, a state of administrative “transition period” exists that permits a shift from the emergency decree to the ISA, a CMPO source said on Thursday.

The decree was imposed on Jan 22, more than a week after the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee launched its “Bangkok shutdown” campaign.

It covers Bangkok, Nonthaburi and parts of Pathum Thani and Samut Prakan provinces.

The Civil Court recently ruled that the emergency decree be kept in place, but prohibited the caretaker government and CMPO from using it to disperse or block protesters from protesting, citing the Constitution Court’s earlier ruling that the protests were peaceful and conducted without weapons.

The imposition of the decree was greeted with complaints from tourism operators after foreign tourists cancelled their trips citing concerns over their safety.

Also, many foreign tourists have stayed away because their travel insurance does not cover them while the emergency decree is in place.

Sumet Sudasna, the president of Thailand Incentive & Convention Association, said the lifting of the emergency decree will likely cause other countries to think that Thailand is a safe place to visit. This will, in turn, compel those countries to lift their travel advisories issued at the onset of the political tension.

However, Mr Sumet said discontinuing the decree now might not make much difference since it is close to expiring anyway. ___


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