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Latest on Thai coup from tourism industry and locals

May 26, 2014 Destination Thailand, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Thailand has slightly relaxed its curfew hourts after last week’s sudden military coup d’état. Tourists and locals are now allowed to remain on the streets until 11pm rather than 10pm.

That’s still pretty early if you’re on holiday.

The tourism sector, meanwhile, has called for the urgent formation of a new government to attract tourists back, so the industry can continue to grow.

Groups of locals demonstrated against the army coup on Bangkok streets on Sunday, with the military not intervening. Smaller protests were reported in regional cities.

The authorities are cracking down on social media protests.

“For those who use social media to provoke, please stop because it’s not good for anyone. For media, they should be careful about speaking, criticising or doing anything that causes damage to any party, especially civilian, police and military officials,” deputy army spokesman Winthai Suvaree said in a televised statement.

The BBC caught some criticism over the weekend; with listeners and readers from Thailand saying its interpretation of the situation was simplistic.

A report in the Nation, however, warned that Thailand could be in danger of losing its position as the world’s top destination for medical tourism “if foreigners looking for low-cost, quality healthcare are scared off by political unrest, especially at a time of growing competition from Asian rivals”.

Tourism accounts for 10% of the Thai economy and, of the 26.5 million people who visited last year, about 2.5 million came for medical reasons, including spa and healthcare services, according to figures from the Department of Export Promotion.

About a third of those medical tourists come from the Middle East, another quarter from Southeast Asia and nearly 15% from Europe.

The Bangkok Post reported that the tourism sector had called for the urgent formation of a new government to help revive tourism.

“We need to have a new government as soon as we possible. If not, there would be nobody to deal with and we eventually would suffer a greater negative impact,” said Pornthip Hirunkate, vice president of Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT).

“More than 50 nations have already issued travel warnings to avoid visiting the country,” Pornthip noted.

“Furthermore, tourists, even from long-haul markets like the US, Canada, the United Kingdom and some other Europe countries, have postponed their trips.”

Many business and leisure tourists have reportedly cancelled trips to Thailand this week, the paper reported, but the TCT believes the sector could record growth this year “if a new government is put in place quickly and confidence in Thailand as a safe destination returns”.

The council said next month’s Thailand Travel Mart in Bangkok was a chance for the industry to shine.

Written by Peter Needham

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