Tourism to Thailand has lately suffered considerable damage to its tourist industry as a result of the political upheaval experienced in the last few months.
Rather like football fans displaying their allegiances, protesters have identified themselves by the colour of their shirts. First, the yellow shirts were on the streets, demanding the resignation of a government they saw as a puppet of exiled ex-prime minister Taksin Shinawatra. That was successful, but involved occupations at Bangkok airports, causing enormous inconvenience to tourists, as well as bad publicity for the country. The Government did indeed resign, but enter the Red Shirts, who demanded the new Government go, and Taksin be returned to the country with new elections. They obviously believed that Mr Taksin would be victorious in a new election. Then enter the Blue Shirts, who attacked the Red Shirts in their recent demonstrations. The leader of the yellow shirts has been shot and wounded, and the leader of the red shirts is in hiding. The new Government clings to power, but for how long, no-one knows. What to do at sentosa singapore
What the Yellow and Red shirt protestors failed to realise was the damage done to Thailand’s tourist industry. This is major earner of foreign currency, and supports hundreds of thousands of direct jobs, and even more indirect jobs.
Tourists became worried, and stopped coming. Some Bangkok hotels have seen occupancy rates fall to as low as 30%. Estimates of tourist revenue losses are upwards of US$500 million. In these credit crunch days, this is more than the country can afford. Many thousands of hotel workers have been laid off.
The political situation is currently calm, which Hotel and Tour Operators hope will last.
To assist the Tourist Industry, the Thai Government is introducing soft loans to businesses in the tourist industry hit by the upheavals. More than US$250 million has been set aside. Thailand is extremely popular as a tourist destination, with several million visitors a year. Visitors looking to visit in the coming holiday season will fervently hope politics takes a back seat, and life, and tourism, can get back to normal.