Bangkok’s peaceful protest surprises tourists


BANGKOK, Jan 14 – The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) was instructed to post photos of Bangkok shutdown on its online media to show the world the non-violent political protest in the capital, a senior official said.

Somsak Pureesrisak, Tourism and Sports Minister, said the Tourist’s Friend Centre, specially set up to deal with the massive protest in Bangkok, received few requests for assistance from tourists yesterday thanks to peaceful rallies citywide.

He said tourists were interested in taking photographs of the demonstrations at various spots in Bangkok.

Mr Somsak said hotel bookings in Bangkok have dropped from the normal pre-Chinese New Year period at 90 per cent to 40 per cent, and most of the cancellations were from Chinese tour groups who like to do shopping in the capital.

Tourist arrivals at Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports have decreased from 52,000 people in November to 49,000 people in December and 47,000 people in January – a 20 per cent drop from the same months last year.

He said the number of foreigners entering Thailand for medical treatment has also declined.

Among 68 countries surveyed by the ministry, 45 have advised their citizens to avoid visiting Thailand during the political unrest.