Reports received from TAT offices, local and international travel trade associations, travel and tourism-related operators and media over the past two days indicate that the peaceful and bloodless coup d’état staged by Thai military leaders on 19 September 2006, has had minimal impact on Thai tourism. Described as “the most peaceful military coup in Thai history”, not a single gunshot was fired. There have been no reports of violence, bloodbaths, civil disorder or mass protests as a result of the coup in any part of the country.
All TAT offices remained open throughout 19 September and are operating as normal. TAT Domestic offices have been monitoring the situation in their respective areas of responsibility, with some reporting no change to tourism status as tourists wait to see how the situation evolves. There has been no cancellations of media familiarization trips organized by TAT overseas offices in Thailand during the months of September and October 2006, with a total of 57 media persons from 9 countries scheduled to come, including from major television programs like “Getaway” of Australia’s Nine Network.
A news report filed by BBC business reporter Will Smale on 20 September titled “Wait and see for Thai tourist sector” echoes similar sentiments. “Tour operators say they have no plans to cancel flights to Thailand, and UK holiday companies insist that “it’s very much business as usual”.
All TAT offices have been requested to provide TAT Head Office with regular situation updates.
Television and radio stations resumed regular programming on early Wednesday morning, 20 September, and all news networks and Internet websites are reporting the situation with total freedom.
All tourist destinations, transportation and airports in the country are operating normally. Domestic and international airports, airline services and airport transfers are also operating normally in Bangkok and throughout the country. Thai Airways International has confirmed normal operations on both domestic and international flights. Hotel guests are able to check-in, check-out and move around at will. Shopping malls, restaurants and commercial outlets in Bangkok have remained open for business. Additionally, transport permanent secretary Wanchai Sarathulthat indicated yesterday that the official opening of Suvarnabhumi Airport, the new Bangkok international airport, would proceed as planned on 28 September.
In its press release dated 20 September 2006, the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) - the recognized authority on Asia Pacific travel and tourism - indicated that all was calm and reiterated that PATA members in Thailand are keen to reassure the global travel trade that the coup d’état has so far been non-violent, and that travel and tourism facilities and services are currently operating normally.
At 15.30 hours Bangkok time on 20 September, the Thailand Chapter of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) reported that the impact of the military coup on Thailand’s tourism sector has so far been minimal and that visitors should definitely continue with their plans to visit the country.
eTurboNews, a leading Internet tourism news service, posted a statement by Mr. Andrew J. Wood, General Manager of Chaophya Park Hotel & Resorts, that provided an update of the situation. He reaffirmed that this was a peaceful transition and that he thought Thailand would be “business as usual” within two weeks.
Asian Trails and Exotissimo Travel, two top tour companies selling Thailand, confirmed that the coup is not a violent one and that tourists are not in danger. Exotissimo Travel viewed the event as serious but not threatening, and reported that all tourist destinations are calm and operational.
All foreign countries are not asking their citizens to depart Thailand, but rather to use caution when travelling within the country.
The Thai military leaders who staged the peaceful and bloodless coup d’état on 19 September call themselves the Council for Democratic Reform (CDR) - described as “an administrative reform group under the democratic system with the king as the head of state”. The CDR stressed that it had no intention of becoming the administrators of the country and that power would be “returned to the people” at the earliest possible time.
During a press conference held on 20 September, General Sonthi Boonyaratglin, who heads the CDR, indicated that an interim civilian government will be formed within two weeks and an interim prime minister will be appointed. The interim prime minister will take charge of political reform.
The new interim government will draft a new constitution for political reform and a new general election is expected to be held within a year (by October 2007). The search for an interim prime minister who is neutral and who advocates democracy within the constitutional monarchy is currently under way.