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Curfew-snagged Bangkok hotels face yet another blow as people stay home

Hotels are entering an extra-low season as people prefer to stay home to watch the World Cup.

Two major trade associations predict that the tourism business will drop slightly during the tournament's run in Brazil from now through July 13.

The peak season will not start until October.

When the Army took over the country last month and imposed martial law and a night-time curfew, the tourism business was immediately hit by travel advisories from 62 countries. However, tourists are dribbling back after the lifting of curfews in several provinces.

"Tourists in Asian countries where the time zones are nearly the same as Thailand's probably will not come to Thailand during the football season, so hotels here will have extra-low occupancy rates," said Surapong Techaruvichit, president of the Thai Hotels Association.

Hotels will likely see fewer visitors, both locals and foreigners, because of the inconvenient broadcast times that go to late night or dawn. Hotels in Bangkok will suffer more than hotels, restaurants and pubs in the provinces, as people in the capital are not allowed to hang out because of the curfew.

"Every time there are big matches like the World Cup or Olympics, hotels can enjoy extra income from fan clubs and guests, but maybe not this year," he said.

Sisdivachr Cheewarattanporn, president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents, said spending over the next 30 days might be lower than during the 2010 World Cup tournament because of the very late time in Thailand. Locals and tourists in the capital will likely tune in to the competition online at home because of the military's limitation on going out.

This is the second time that Brazil is hosting the soccer spectacular after the first in 1950. This time, 31 national teams will be vying for the championship, and 64 matches are set for live airing globally, including in Thailand.

According to the Centre for Economic and Business Forecasting at the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, nearly Bt70 billion will be spent during this year's World Cup, of which Bt43 billion will go to gambling, Bt21 billion to product purchasing and entertaining, Bt2.4 billion to buying electronic appliances and Bt1.3 billion to obtaining premium products.


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