Tourist help centres to be set up across the city ahead of shutdown

Economy January 09, 2014 00:00


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THE TOURISM Sector is going on high alert and setting up "Tourist Friends Centres" in key locations across Bangkok ahead of |possible chaos on Monday as anti-government protesters try to bring the capital to a halt.

Centres will be located in the Huamark area as well as at Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airports. There will also be booths set up at BTS and MRT stations including Phaya Thai, Ekkamai and Hua Lamphong. Similar services will also be offered at three hotels: Imperial Queen Park, Twin Towers, and one in the Sathorn area.

Foreign tourists will be advised to avoid the capital when they arrive, while those scheduled to stay in Bangkok will be informed of the services on offer.

Delegates from tourism-related operations as well as officials from the Tourism and Sports Ministry, led by deputy |permanent secretary Kajorn Weerajai, discussed the issue yesterday and looked for ways to help foreign tourists in case severe traffic brings the capital to a standstill on Monday.

On that day, 150 volunteers will be put in charge. Taxi boats that have the capacity to carry 200-300 passengers, as well as buses and vans, will be prepared to provide services in case of urgency.

Tourists will also be given US$100 (Bt3,200) a day if they happen to miss their scheduled flight by more than eight hours.

Kajorn said he was not sure how long the centres would be able to provide these services, adding that the ministry planned to monitor the situation on a day-to-day basis.

Thirayuth Chirathivat, chief executive officer of Centara Hotels and Resorts, said the property located at CentralWorld in downtown Bangkok would most definitely be affected.

He has instructed all staff members to be on high alert and keep all guests updated on the situation.

Separately, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) said that if the protest continued, the number of tourist arrivals would be affected.

It predicts that arrival numbers will drop by 4-5 per cent this quarter, and as a result, the total number of arrivals this year would be 29.6 million, down from the 29.86 million projected previously.

Tourism revenue is also expected to |drop to Bt1.43 trillion, down from Bt1.44 trillion.

TAT’s previous projection for this year was 28.01 million arrivals, a 7.28-per-cent increase from 2013, and a 12.91-per-cent increase in tourism revenue to Bt1.33 trillion. It recently boosted its projection because of the arrivals of 26.1 million tourists last year, which was more than expected.