Thailand’s tourist industry faces losing £1.6billion if anti-government protests continue for another six months, a Thai tourist official has said
Thawatchai Arunyik, a governor for the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), said the number of foreign tourists visiting the country will drop by 900,000, leading to an estimated revenue loss of £1.6billion over the next six months if the unrest carries on.
But it is visitors from Asian countries who are most likely to be deterred, TAT has suggested, while Britons have shown less sensitivity to the political upheaval and still want to see the country.
While hoteliers in Thailand are suffering, TAT said the number of visits from British tourists in January was more than ten per cent up on last year.
Street protests have been staged on a daily basis by anti-government protestors since a state of emergency was declared in the city on January 21.
Tourist attractions have remained open and unaffected throughout but there have been a few violent clashes at protest sites and today, reports of an explosion near the Pratunam intersection.
The Thai government has said it intends to dismantle the protest sites, the Foreign Office has warned, adding that this led to the violence between police and protestors at Phanfa Bridge, Ratchadamnoen Road on February 18 that left three dead.
A useful map updating tourists on where the protest sites are in the city has been produced by Richard Barrow, a Bangkok resident and travel blogger.
The Foreign Office is advising British travellers to “take extra care and avoid all protests, political gatherings, demonstrations and marches. If you’re travelling to the airport, allow extra time to take account of possible transport delays, and consider using the airport rail link. Monitor local news and social media for developments.”
Our Phuket expert, Lee Cobaj, was in Bangkok this week and said that while her hotel was quiet, it seemed like business as usual at the main sights. Other tourists she spoke to reported picking up bargain rates for their holidays and had not seen any trouble.
A TAT spokeswoman said: “There is no reason, at this time, for tourists to cancel their travel.
“The rest of the country such as Chiang Mai, Phuket, Koh Samui, Krabi, Khao Lak, Pattaya and Hua Hin are not at all affected by the political situation and remain very much open for business as usual and ready to welcome tourists.”