Tourism group urges govt to end state of emergency

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BANGKOK, Jan 23 – The Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT) today called on the caretaker government to revoke the Emergency Decree which, it said, has negatively impacted domestic tourism and compelled many countries to warn their people against visiting the kingdom.

TCT president Piyamarn Techapaibul said today’s TCT meeting agreed that the government should urgently nullify the decree which has prompted many countries to elevate their warnings from 2-3 to the highest 4-5 level.

The decree, in effect for 60 days starting yesterday, has led foreigners to feel unsafe if they visit Thailand and countries as well as territories like Hong Kong, US, Australia, China, Japan, Korea, Russia and Taiwan have upgraded warnings, she said.

She said revenue loss from tourism is estimated at Bt50 billion in the first quarter when 1.1 million from the total 6.5 million tourists will not arrive, representing a 14 per cent decrease year-on-year.

Tourists started delaying their decisions to visit Thailand for fear of safety and booking for the second quarter has dropped by about 700,000 people, or a revenue loss of Bt32 billion.

Revenue loss in the first two quarters will possibly reach Bt82 billion, she said, adding that the Asian market is the most volatile.

Most affected are Bangkok and neighbouring attractions including Pattaya, Hua Hin, Cha-am and Kanchanaburi while further provinces like Chiang Mai and Phuket enjoyed 15 per cent growth.

The two conflicting factions – the government and the People’s Democratic Reform Committee – should negotiate to end the conflicts as soon as possible, she said.

Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn, president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents, said travel agencies have tried hard to convince tourists to switch to other destinations within Thailand instead of cancelling their trips to the country but the invocation of the Emergency Decree has shaken tourists’ confidence towards the country’s safety.

A state of emergency is virtually a curfew in the eyes of foreign tourists, he said.