Going to Thailand?
For the last six months or so, tourists going or considering going to Thailand have probably wondered whether it was a good idea. At the end of last year, the main airport in Bangkok was effectively closed by anti government protests. A little while ago a summit in Pattaya had to be postponed because of protests and over Easter protests again surfaced in Bangkok. During this time there were the usual advisory notices from the Foreign Office urging people not to visit. Countries as diverse as Australia and Russia urged travellers not to go there.
If you’ve already booked or were considering going does this sort of news deter you? Should it? Does media coverage concentrate on only spectacle as opposed to how ordinary activities are affected? On one hand, you have the media saying how difficult life is and on the other the tourism people saying how unaffected tourists will be. Who do you believe?
During the recent Easter reporting it appears that hotels stayed open and bus and train services were largely unaffected including the SkyTrain. The tourist attractions and the shopping areas were open and seemed to be largely unaffected. At the time of writing, there is an emergency decree in force at the time prohibiting gatherings of more than 5 people, (you should check if, you are leaving shortly, whether this is still in place), but this should not affect tourists. Roads were closed but this can happen anywhere and was short lived. Try going through Edinburgh at the moment as they prepare for the new transport system!
Tanes Petsuwan, the UK Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, has thanked the travel industry for supporting Thailand during this period and continuing to sell it. They hope 750,0000 of us will visit Thailand this year and overall tourism is very important to the economy.
So it appears that whilst protests occurred, tourists were largely not inconvenienced. They could still enjoy their holiday but did it put people off from considering Thailand in the future? It probably has to some extent so how do you really find out the true state of play. The answer is probably to do, if you can, what I did. Talk to someone in the place that you’re going to and ask them what life is like at the moment. That information is far more useful than what sometimes appears in the media.