Half of Hat Yai hotel bookings cancelled after bombing


SONGKHLA, April 5 – Thailand’s traditional Songkran new year celebration in Hat Yai is likely to be less crowded than usual as the hoteliers’ association said more than half of the earlier rooms booked for Songkran in Hat Yai and Songkhla have been cancelled after last weekend’s deadly bombing and is costing the industry more than Bt50 million.

Hat Yai-Songkhla Hotel Business Association President Somchart Pimthanapoonporn said that the Lee Gardens Plaza Hotel car bombing last Saturday that killed three persons–including two Malaysians–and wounded over 350 tourists and shoppers, has significantly affected the tourism business in the province.

He said the number of tourists dropped to around 20 per cent and more than 50 per cent of hotel rooms booked for the festival next week have been cancelled which is estimated to cost the industry more than Bt50 million.

The attack was considered a severe incident as it shook confidence among residents and tourists. It would take at least three months to revive the tourism business, according to Mr Somchart.

Meanwhile, the public and private sectors, and residents alike, in Hat Yai this morning held an multi-faith religious ceremony in front of the Lee Gardens Plaza Hotel to make merit for those killed in the hotel bombing.

The authorities today began removing vehicles from the hotel’s car park, mostly cars which were not heavily damaged. It was estimated that there were 200 vehicles in the facility.

In a related development, the Southern Border Provinces Police Operation Center distributed photos and details of five stolen vehicles that may be used in future car bombings. The agency urged the public to help monitoring and alert the authorities if anyone spots any suspicious cars.

Police said among the eight stolen vehicles, three were already installed with explosive devices and used in last weekend’s car bombings — one in Hat Yai and two in Yala on the same day.

The other five suspicious vehicles, all pickups, include a white Toyota Hilux, a green Mitsubishi L200, and three Isuzus, one brown, one bronze, one brown, and one Isuzu Gold.