Prime Minister HE Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva, Prime Minister of Thailand, issued the following statement regarding the political developments in his country:
Thailand is plotting its return from the tourism cold now that control and order has been restored in Bangkok. The government estimates US$1.5 billion has been lost in tourism revenue following two months of political upheaval, whilst many fear that Thailand’s image as the “Land of Smiles” has been shattered by the violence that left 88 dead and 1,900 injured.
Thai prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has said order has been restored to the capital Bangkok following weeks of unrest across the country. Mr Abhisit added that, while “huge challenges” remained, now was the time to “heal the emotional wounds and restore unity among the Thai people”.
The curfew in Bangkok has been extended by a further three nights as Thai troops attempt to storm the anti-government protesters’ camp and weed out the ringleaders. The army insisted the violence was now under control following yesterday’s outburst which claimed a further 14 lives.
The Foreign Office is warning British travellers to avoid all but essential travel to Bangkok as Thai troops overrun barricades in the heart of the city. At least five people are known to have died as forces loyal to prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva stormed Red Shirt barricades ending weeks of protest.
Bookings for resorts in Phuket 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 street battles has sent the country’s tourism industry into freefall, despite the destination remaining largely peaceful and few resorts outside the capital affected.
Violence in Bangkok has escalated with troops opening fire on rioting Red Shirt anti-government protestors, once again turning the Thai capital into a battlefield. On Friday, the so-called Red Shirts seized and vandalized several military vehicles, and set at least one truck on fire following the shooting of an influential anti-government general.
The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office has rescinded advice advising against all but essential travel to Thailand. However, travellers are still urged to avoid Bangkok, with protestors still occupying swathes of the capital.
Despite warnings from the British FCO which is currently advising against all but essential travel to Bangkok, cheap flight site Skyscanner (www.Skyscanner.net) can report that tourists have so far not been dissuaded from flying to the Thai capital for their summer holidays.
Hundreds of tourists remain stranded in the basement of Bangkok airport as airlines struggle to clear the backlog caused by the ash cloud crisis. The recent spate of civil disturbances also makes it safer to remain in the airport rather than staying at local hotels.
Government officials from around the world have begun to advise against all but essential travel to Bangkok, following a spate of “terrorists” attacks on Thursday. As many as eighty commuters are feared injured following four explosions in the Silom business district.
Thursday’s explosions in Bangkok have bought weeks of simmering internal discontent to international attention. But with large parts of the country untouched by protests and local tourist chiefs urging visitors not to alter their plans, Chris O’Toole here examines how dangerous the country really is.