Travel warnings issued on Thailand

13 Apr 2009

A number of nations have issued travel advisories warning their citizens against any non-essential trips to Thailand following violent clashes overnight between security forces and anti-government protesters.

Thai military units have used force to disperse the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship “red-shirt” protests against Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva in the Thai capital. Initial media reports speak of dozens of injuries in government efforts to enforce a state of emergency in Bangkok and some surrounding provinces.

Statements from the British Foreign Office, the Malaysian foreign ministry and the Singaporean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, have advised their nationals to postpone trips to the southeast Asian kingdom.

The warnings come after a week of mostly peaceful mass demonstrations and rallies in which protesters forced the cancellation of the Asean summit in Pattaya last week and later attacked government buildings in Bangkok to force the resignation of Abhisit’s government.

Travel advisories remain a controversial topic among travel industry specialists who often complain that the warnings bear no relation to the level of actual risk to foreign tourists and travellers who are not caught up in domestic politics.

However, last year’s protests by “yellow shirts” from the People’s Alliance for Democracy, which brought Abhisit to power, closed the country’s main international airports, stranding thousands of foreign travellers and crippling the country’s tourism industry.

Kenny Coyle

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