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Posts Tagged ‘Thailand Tourism’

28th February 2014

As of the time of this writing, the “Shutdown Bangkok” campaign is scheduled to end on Monday, March 3rd. However, from initial reports it is not clear whether the movement will be fully dissolved in all locations. Apparently, leaders of the movement have scheduled an end to the blocking of key intersections throughout the city while consolidating the movement’s location at Lumpini Park. Meanwhile, it remains unclear whether the protest site at Chaeng Wattana will be closed as well.

Apparently, this decision was made as a result of concerns that the protest has had a dampening effect upon the Thai economy. As protests intensified many people from all sectors of the Thai business community raised concerns that the situation was causing losses in the tourism industry as well as possibly leading to decreases in future foreign direct investment.

The recent news will likely come as a welcome surprise to the Thai business community especially the tourism sector as it could be a portent of a future lasting compromise leading to a maintenance of stability in the country. Those living and working in Bangkok will likely also be glad to hear of the reopening of major intersections since doing so will undoubtedly lead to less traffic congestion in the city.

Hopefully, this announcement will encourage foreign governments around the world to lift their travel warnings and travel bans regarding Thailand. As a consequence, tourists will return to Thailand on a scale that is relatively commiserate with tourism numbers prior to the outset of protesting.

Notwithstanding recent political tension there are many who feel as though Thailand still represents one of the top tourism destinations in the world. Furthermore, Thailand is also considered a prime destination for foreign direct investment as the Kingdom remains one of the strongest economies in Southeast Asia. Couple this with the fact that as of January 2015 the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) will come into being creating a wide range of business opportunities in Thailand and throughout the region, and there is good reason to believe that Thailand will remain strong economically. Should the AEC also herald the coming of a single unified ASEAN visa scheme Thailand as well as the rest of Southeast Asia could see an increase in the numbers of both business and leisure travelers. Only time will tell how all of these developments will play out, but cautious optimism is apparently called for under the present circumstances.

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12th November 2013

It was recently announced that the President of the Tourism Council of Thailand Piyaman Tejapaibul met with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra at Government House on 12 November 2013 in order to discuss matters pertaining to tourism in the Kingdom of Thailand. This recent meeting was held as Bangkok and other areas of Thailand have seen demonstrations which seem to be causing concern for Thai officials. Although many in Thailand feel that the demonstrations should be monitored, they are unlikely to adversely impact the tourism sector so long as the demonstrations remain confined to specific relatively small geographic areas. Over 26 million tourists are expected to travel to Thailand in 2013 and are also expected to bring in revenue well over 1.5 trillion Thai baht to the local economy. This being the case, it  is little wonder that officials in the Thai government as well as the industries which thrive upon tourism related activities are concerned about the possible negative consequences stemming from recent political demonstrations (regardless of affiliation).

The Thai government appears committed to a policy non-violence towards demonstrators as, so long as demonstration remain peaceful, they are not prohibited by law. Meanwhile it currently appears that these demonstrations are confined to only a few areas of the City of Bangkok, namely: Phan Fa Bridge, Makkhawan Bridge on Ratchadamnoen Avenue, and Democracy Monument. At present, increased security measures have been undertaken in these locations as a precautionary measure while traffic police in the city work in earnest to ensure that these activities do not interfere with normal traffic flow in Bangkok. That being stated, some roads and facilities near demonstration sites may be temporarily closed due to demonstrations occurring close by so travelers are advised to research their traffic route prior to traveling in certain parts of the city so as to forestall unnecessary delays.

As of the time of this writing, nearly 20 countries have issued travel warnings to their citizens urging them to try to avoid areas where demonstrations may be taking place. In the recent past, demonstrations have led to significant disruptions in Bangkok as parts of the city were, at one time, virtually impenetrable to ingress and egress. However, under the current circumstances it would appear that such a situation will be unlikely to come about in the near future.

Tourism is a substantial aspect of the Thai economy and it is rather impressive to see government officials as well as civil servants making efforts to see to it that tourism is not affected by recent political activities. Moreover, it would appear that demonstrators are making a conscious effort to keep demonstrations peaceful and confine their activities to certain areas.

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20th May 2010

The following was posted on the official website of the US Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand:

U.S. Depatment of State
Department Spokesman
Daily Press Briefing, Washington, DC May 19, 2010

Statement: Situation in Thailand

I would like to say that the United States deeply deplores the violence and loss of life that has resulted from clashes between security forces and protests from the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD).  We call on both sides to show restraint and to work to resolve differences through Thailand’s democratic institutions.

We are encouraged by the actions of the Red Shirt leaders who have surrendered to law enforcement agencies and support their call to supporters to return home peacefully.  However, we are deeply concerned that Red Shirt supporters have engaged in arson targeting the electricity infrastructure and media outlets and have attacked individual journalists.

We condemn such behavior and call on UDD leaders and affiliated opposition politicians to urge their supporters to stop such acts.  We remain very concerned about the situation in Thailand and we will continue to monitor those events closely.

At the time of this writing, the US Embassy in Bangkok is closed to those seeking routine services due to the unrest in the areas near the Embassy compound. In Bangkok, the situation seems to have stabilized. However, the city remains tense as most Bangkok residents seem to be hoping for an end to the unpleasantness and a return to relative normality.

On a related note, the Thai Tourism Industry is preparing for a major downturn moving forward. To quote the website ThaiVisa.com:

Thailand’s violent political turmoil has had a “disastrous” effect on the vital tourism sector, the country’s finance minister said Friday, stressing that the overall economy remained sound. “Tourism in value terms accounts for six percent of our GDP,” Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij told a Tokyo conference, adding that the sector also accounts for “as much as 15 to 20 percent of the total employment.” “And clearly, with the events that took place over the past several weeks, and the pictures of these events flashing across TV screens across the world, it is going to have a very disastrous impact on tourism.” Thai security forces on Wednesday crushed a six-week protest by anti-government protesters in street battles that left 15 people dead and saw arsonists torch some 36 key buildings across the capital Bangkok. The stock exchange and the nation’s biggest shopping mall were among locations torched in the chaotic aftermath of the campaign to end the “Red Shirt” protesters’ occupation of Bangkok’s top retail district. Korn said that “we anticipate that the impact on the GDP of the protest so far is probably between 0.3 and 0.5 percent of GDP.” However, he stressed that the wider economic picture was sound in the kingdom, telling the conference that “we expect the formal Q1 (first quarter) figure to be in two digits” this year.

As we have previously discussed on this blog, the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs has waived fees for Thai Tourist Visas. However, the fees associated with applications for the Thai business visa and the Thai O visa remain the same.

For further information about attorney assistance with Consular Processing of US visa applications please see: US Embassy. For further information about closure of the US Embassy in Thailand please see: US Embassy Bangkok. Finally, to learn more about Thai Immigration please see: Thai Visa.

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15th April 2010

In a recent posting of the website ThaiVisa.com, the issue of Thai tourist was discussed in the context of Thai Immigration. Frequent readers of this blog will remember that until March of this year, Thai Tourism officials, in conjunction with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, had been granting tourist visas to Thailand free of charge. Apparently, this program is to be extended. The following is quoted from ThaiVisa.com:

“The Ministry of Tourism and Sports has extended tourism stimulus measures for one year until 31 March 2011 to assist tourism related entrepreneurs who were affected from the demonstration of the United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD). Tourism and Sports Minister Chumpol Silapa-archa announced on Thursday that the ministry has resolved to extend the assistance measures to help tourism related entrepreneurs while road show activities must be organized on a continuous basis to further stimulate tourism. The stimulus measures include the exemption of visa fees for foreign tourists, travel insurance for foreign tourists of not more than 10,000 USD, low interest rate loans, and extension of loan payment periods.”

Hopefully, these measures will provide a benefit to Thailand’s struggling tourism sector which will likely be adversely impacted by the unrest in Bangkok that has occurred over the recent weeks. The report went on:

“The minister added that the number of tourists travelling [sic] into Thailand at airports in general have not decreased, but on the other hand, is more than the number in the same period last year because the figure last year was very low. Mr Chumpol admitted that tour bookings in Bangkok would be affected from the mass rally of the UDD now taking place at Ratchaprasong Intersection. However, those in other areas, especially in the southern islands of Phuket and Samui would not be affected.”

This author would argue that although Tourism has been impacted by recent events in Thailand. There may be another explanation for the seemingly lower tourism figures (or at least the lower numbers of people pursuing Thai Tourist visas). One of the causes could be the fact that more and more tourists in Thailand are “Long Stay” tourists, meaning that they prefer to remain for 3,6, 9, or even 12 months at a time. Many such travelers prefer to come to Thailand using an O visa as such a visa can be granted with a validity as long as one year. Others prefer to use a Thailand business visa. A Thai business visa provides the benefit of creating a foundation for a Thai work permit application should the need for such documentation arise. Although an individual present in the Kingdom on a business visa does not strictly meet the definition of “tourist,” many people come to Thailand using a “B” visa and conduct business meetings in Thailand before pursuing more recreational activities.

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23rd March 2010

This author has been increasingly asked about the impact of recent political demonstrations upon those living in Bangkok. From personal experience, this author must admit that the demonstrations have had little or no impact upon living conditions in Bangkok. That being said, it appears that the recent protests are having an effect upon the Thai tourist industry.

In a recent posting on Thaivisa.com the issue of the protests and the detrimental effect they are having on the Tourism industry was discussed:

“The Thai Hotels Association said Thursday that room cancellations in Bangkok have been made at about 1,000 rooms per day, although the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has assessed Red Shirt demonstration in the capital has not had a great impact on tourism so far. Thai Hotels Association director Sakrin Chorsawai said the demonstration has affected tourism operators, particularly in hotel businesses in Bangkok. A significant drop in the number of foreign tourists was seen and room reservations fell some 10-20 per cent. About 1,000 rooms were canceled daily on average as tourists feared possible violence during the mass demonstrations, in particular from March 12-23, Mr Sakrin said. However, tourism operators in other regions have not been affected, and are enjoying a normal rate of hotel bookings, he said. Local tourists, who are worried about the political situation, do not travel. If the demonstration is prolonged, its negative effects on tourism will be clearly seen, said Mr Sakrin. Meanwhile, TAT director Surapol Svetasreni said the tourism in January and February had recovered but since the Red Shirt protest began in Bangkok last week, the national agency is vigilant on the current situation to alleviate and to minimise possible effects on tourism. TAT’s promotional campaign this year still focuses on overseas roadshows and targets the number of foreign tourists at 15 million people in 2010.”

Although room cancellations may be attributable to the protests, this author believes that other factors may explain the recent downturn in Thai tourism overall. In a previous post, it was noted that the free Thai tourist visa scheme had come to an end. Subsequent to that posting, it was reported that the Thai visa fee waiver would go back into effect for Tourist visas beginning on April 1st of 2010. However, this left a window of about one month in which Thai tourist visas would not be granted free of charge. There is a possibility that some of those planning to tour Thailand are awaiting the re-institution of the free tourist visa scheme. This is mere speculation on the part of this author, but it may be the case.

For more information about Thai Immigration generally please see: Thailand visa.

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