Life has returned to normal in Thailand following the decision by Caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra not to take the premiership in the next government.
The streets of Bangkok are bustling with traffic as usual as anti-government political demonstrators have returned home to await the next developments.
Travel industry executives have heaved a sigh of relief, stressing that Thailand’s vibrant democracy has again proved triumphant, allowing the Thai people to express their opposition peacefully.
Airlines, tour operators, hoteliers and other industry service providers were busy communicating the all-clear message to their principals abroad.
Tourism to Thailand was briefly affected over the past few weeks of political controversy that culminated in a national election on 2 April. Hotels reported a slight downturn in occupancies as visitors chose to switch to other destinations due to concern over unforeseen developments.
In announcing his decision at a nationally televised Press conference on 04 April, Prime Minister Thaksin said he wished to restore national unity in a year of tremendous importance to the country—the celebration of His Majesty the King’s 60th anniversary on the throne.
“I want all Thais to reunite,” the Prime Minister said.
The Royal Thai Government has officially launched the “Thailand Grand Invitation Year”, a colourful, high profile campaign designed to commemorate the Royal event.
His Majesty is already the world’s longest reigning monarch, and the year will see a series of dazzling events and celebrations to honour the life and times of His Majesty and all that he has done for the Thai people.
Thailand is renowned for its ability to stage spectacular events and splendid festivals. The Grand Festival of Events to be held nationwide will showcase all the grandeur, the pageantry, glorious tradition and culture of the realm.
June will be the month when the most important events will be held.
According to the Royal Household, 29 countries have reigning monarchs. As of last month, royals from nearly all these countries had graciously accepted the invitations to join the Thai celebrations including Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan, the King and Queen of Sweden, the King of Jordan, the King of Monaco and Prince Andrew of the United Kingdom.
The Royal Barge Procession will be held on Monday, 12 June followed by the gala dinner for the Royal guests and ambassadors on 13 June. Both these days will be government holidays in Bangkok and surrounding provinces to alleviate the traffic problem and facilitate security arrangements.
In addition, the Royal Thai army procession will take place on 23 June. The government will organize an exhibition in honour of His Majesty the King at Impact Exhibition Hall, Muang Thong Thani, from 26 May until 4 June, 2006.
Preparations are also under way for the Royal Flora Ratchaphruek 2006, International Horticultural Exposition, to be held from 1 November 2006 to 31 January 2007, in the northern capital of Chiang Mai.
All these events are expected to be widely broadcast and covered worldwide.
Said Tourism Authority of Thailand Governor Mrs Juthamas Siriwan, “We are hoping that the campaign will attract 13.8 million international visitors in 2006, generating tourism income of 480,000 million baht.”