Travellers from around the world have been advised against all but essential travel to Thailand’s capital Bangkok, as red-shirt anti-government protesters continue demonstrations.
Officially entitled the National United Front of Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), the group has been blamed by the Thai government for explosions on packed commuter trains on Thursday.
However, red-shirt leaders subsequently denied responsibility for the explosions – which left one person dead and scores injured - saying they were not out to hurt innocent people.
The attacks are the latest in six weeks of demonstrations to shake the capital, as protestors call for the dissolution of prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s government.
Red shirts argue power was assumed illegitimately and call for parliamentary elections.
However, there appears to be limited scope for negotiation at present.
Impact on Tourism
In response to the deepening crisis governments from around the world have called on travellers to exercise caution when visiting the region.
The British Foreign Office released a statement advising against “all but essential travel” to Bangkok.
“British nationals should exercise extreme caution throughout the country, and avoid demonstrations and large gatherings, some of which have recently turned violent,” added a Foreign Office statement.
However, the advice does not apply to passengers transiting Bangkok on their way to other destinations in Thailand, with travellers reminded Suvarnabhumi airport is operating as normal.
The American embassy in Bangkok added: “US citizens are reminded even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence with little or no warning.
“US citizens are urged to avoid the areas that may be targeted for demonstrations and to exercise caution in their movements around Bangkok.”
American officials added more explosions could not be ruled out, while stating it expected UDD protests to continue “indefinitely”.
The Australian department for foreign affairs and trade issued similar advice, warning of a “strong possibility of renewed violent clashes”.
Open for Business
With concerns growing around the world, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) earlier encouraged visitors not to cancel travel plans.
“Both organisations seek to reassure tourists and business travellers visiting Thailand that the protests in Bangkok have not caused major disruption in the city.
“The city remains a safe destination for both leisure and business travellers.
“However, although this is a domestic dispute, PATA and the TAT advise all foreign nationals to exercise caution and avoid those areas of the city where the protesters have gathered.”
Government sources have suggested the tourism economy may shrink by as much as 20 per cent following the unrest.
Breaking Travel News takes a look at just how safe Thailand really is here.