Shutdown for Bangkok Tourism 2014
BANGKOK, 6 January 2014: Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism and Sports says the tourists arrivals will drop between 10% and 12% in 2014 due to the prolonged political demonstrations that threaten to shutdown Bangkok 13 January.
The ministry targeted 30.27 million with revenue of Bt1.344 trillion compared to an estimated of 26.72 million visits and Bt1.167 trillion in 2013.
However, the ministry’s permanent secretary, Suwat Sidthilaw, said the ministry will soon update foreign diplomats about the situation in Thailand, as it is now apparent that the political rallies will be prolonged and have a much bigger impact than officials admitted earlier.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand has also been told to update its website content to ensure foreign tourists receive factual information on a situation that is deteriorating by the day.
“A decline in foreign tourists is the result of several factors, which include the prolonged political demonstrations and China’s tightening of regulations on outbound tours.”
He added: “If political rallies end during the first quarter of this year, the tourism sector will recover fast.”
Association of Domestic Travel president, Yutthachai Soonthronrattanavate, said the prolonged political instability will squeeze the tourism industry as well as corporate and conference related business.
“If the capital is seized by the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee and a shutdown is complete, it will be impossible to travel around the capital; it will be very serious.”
Association of Thai Travel Agent president, Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn, added the shutdown planned for 13 January will threaten tourism business during the upcoming holiday of Chinese New Year, 20 January to 1 February.
“The plan will deter tourists particularly Chinese and Asian who were planning to visit Thailand during the Chinese New Year holiday period.”
The agent president added that many tour operators have already booked hotel rooms for their guests, but forward bookings for Chinese New Year are slipping.
Thai Hotels Association president, Surapong Techaruvichit, said tourists are aware of the situation.
“Tourists wanting to visit Thailand are unlikely to change their minds, while those who are worried about the political situation have long since cancelled or rerouted their trips to other destinations.”
The occupancy rate for Bangkok hotels will be around 70% to 75% compared with 75% to 80%.
Protesters have threatened to bring the Thai capital to a standstill, 13 January, by closing 20 important road intersections in the inner city. They have said they will not close airports, but closing the inner city will have the same impact by marooning thousands of tourists who will not be able to transfer to airports by taxis or even take a taxi to the nearest airport rail link station.
If the hotel is within a walking distance of a BTS or MRT station visitors will be able to transfer to the airport rail link stations (Makkasan and Phaya Thai) to connect with flights out of Suvarnabhumi Airport.
Travellers heading for Don Mueang Airport will not find it so easy as the protesters have threatened to close the Lat Prao intersection near the Mor Chit BTS station.
Also travellers arriving at the two airports may find it impossible to transfer to their hotels in the inner city. Travel agents are recommending visitors to head directly for Phuket, Pattaya or Chiang Mai and give Bangkok a wide berth until the situation is resolved.
Some airlines are already cancelling flights. Singapore Airlines said it would cancel 19 flights to Suvaranbhumi Airport, 13 January to 25 February according to ChannelNews Asia and the Straits Times.