Bookings for Phuket resorts have sunk to just 15 percent for June as the tourist industry across Thailand suffers the fall-out of the violent protests in Bangkok.
The global coverage of the urban guerrilla standoff in the capital has sent the country’s tourism industry into freefall, despite the destination remaining largely peaceful and few resorts outside the capital affected.
Since they began in March, the protests have claimed 66 lives and injured more than 1,600, including several tourists. In recent days the situation in the capital has deteriorated – 37 of the deaths have been recorded since Thursday.
Officials last night defended the military crackdown as the violence shows no sign of abating. Meanwhile calls for United Nations mediation talks have been rebuffed by the government, which instead urged the protest leaders to surrender.
The UK Foreign Office warns of “a continued risk that acts of violence could take place outside these areas without warning, including department stores” after Red Shirts protesters threatened to set off explosions in popular shopping areas in the city.
Away from Bangkok however, holiday resorts are welcoming guests as normal, with the country’s tourism hotspots Koh Samui, Phuket and Krabi reporting of no troubles.
For those transiting via Bangkok, the FCO is advising that the airport is currently unaffected by the problems.
Many embassies in Bangkok are in the live fire zone and have been closed since the escalation of violence on Thursday night, following the shooting of an influential anti-government general by a sniper.
General Khattiya was shot during an interview with a reporter for The New York Times shortly after the military announced the start of a blockade and cut off electricity and water to a tent city of thousands of protesters. He had become a symbol of the lawlessness that has ripped Thailand apart as the protests have pitted the nation’s poor against its establishment.
He had assumed control of security for the protesters, placing his own black-shirted paramilitary fighters at entrances in the makeshift barriers around their encampment, and he claimed the loyalty of a small but intense group of protesters.