Tourism industry to press junta to cancel martial law in key destinations

Economy July 26, 2014 00:00


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The private sector plans to ask the junta to lift martial law in key destinations in order to lure international tourists back to the Kingdom.

The National Tourism Development Committee along with key private-sector associations met yesterday with officials of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports to seek recovery plans.
The group drafted several short-term measures. On top of these, it plans to seek an easing of martial law to regain the interest of foreign tourists in travelling to Thailand, especially in the high season that will begin in November.
Pornthip Hirunkate, vice president of the Tourism Council of Thailand, said the private sector would ask the military rulers to lift martial law in tourist destinations such as Pattaya, Hua Hin, Cha-am, Samui and Phuket. Other areas can follow later. 
If martial law is lifted, tourists will be able to buy travel insurance before coming to Thailand or during their stay.   
She said tourism had suffered since the coup in late May. Many tourists are waiting to see how the situation develops, and they may eventually go to other countries instead.
Surapong Techaruvichit, president of the Thai Hotels Association (THA), said average occupancy at hotels across the country in June dropped by 25 per cent after the coup. After the military seized power from the elected government on May 22, operators saw their businesses damaged as tourists shifted to other destinations to avoid chaos in Thailand.
The THA reported that the occupancy rate at hotels in Bangkok last month dropped by 25 percentage points to 50 per cent compared with May, rates in hotels in the East were down by 60 points to 23 per cent, and those in the West fell by 9 points to 42 per cent. In the North, the average occupancy rate was 55 per cent, while rates in the South declined by 26 percentage points to 48 per cent, and in Samui by 10 points to 58 per cent.
Surapong said the political crisis led the tourism sector into an extra-low season. The association expects tourism to revive during the rest of the year but it really depends on what the junta does.
Last night, tourism authorities hosted a welcoming dinner for international media and travel agents. The group is scheduled to visit attractions in Bangkok and throughout country. More familiarisation trips for media and other targeted niche groups are scheduled for August and September, before the onset of high season.