The Thai government has ended the curfew in Bangkok and 23 other provinces that had been in place since May 19, 2010.
Thai prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said the decision followed assurances from security forces they had gained control following the weeks-long civilian hostilities that left 85 dead. However, the state of emergency, introduced on April 7 remains in force in Bangkok and 23 provinces, including four “hot spots” – Ubon Ratchathani, Udon Thani, Khon Kaen and Mukhahan.
Many countries, such as the US, UK and Australia, continue to warn their citizens to avoid either travelling to Thailand or maintain extreme caution when moving about the country.
Tourism authorities, as expected, are preparing a promotion campaign to revive the business, focusing on reliable source markets China, Hongkong, Japan and Asean neighbours but which tend to be highly sensitive about safety and security. The Tourism Council of Thailand said the events of past weeks could result in THB120 billion (US$3.63 billion) in lost revenue.
This is not the first time Thailand has had to coax visitors to return, having had to launch “welcome back” initiatives due to incidents such as the tsunami in the South in 2004, the Yellow Shirts’ occupation of Suvarnabhumi Airport in 2008 and various other civil disturbances throughout 2009.
The Bangkok Post reported Ampon Kittiampon, secretary general of the National Economic and Social Development Board, predicting a challenging marketing scenario for Thailand’s tourism players and saying that “recovery would rest mainly on the ability of Thailand to ensure safety measures for foreign tourists”.
Tourism revenue usually accounts for between 7 to 8 percent of the country’s GDP.
Margie T Logarta