The junta yesterday lifted curfew in the key tourist destinations of Pattaya, Koh Samui and Phuket to ease the atmosphere there and reduce the fallout on the local economy. However, curfew has been maintained in other areas, including the capital, between midnight and 4am.
Yesterday’s announcement was welcomed by the tourism industry, a key component of the Thai economy.
Piyaman Tejapaibul, president of the Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT), said the move would enable a faster recovery for the tourism sector. He said tourists would return to Thailand, especially from short- and medium-haul markets such as India and Australia and other Asian nations as they love to visit the beach resorts in southern Thailand. More weekend travellers are also expected to be back in the Kingdom.
The Council urged the military to also lift curfew in some other destinations like Hua Hin-Cha-Am as well as Bangkok.
“We see some positive signs for tourism. The move will rebuild the country’s image and also restore tourist confidence,” said Piyaman.
The Council and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) will announce this development to 400 travel operators scheduled to attend an annual tourism event – Thailand Travel Mart (TTM) Plus – scheduled to begin in Bangkok today.
The tourism sector also hoped that foreign governments would withdraw travel advisories to their citizens, to benefit Thai tourism during this low season.
The curfew was imposed on May 22 when Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha staged the coup against the caretaker government after attempts for a negotiated settlement between the then government and anti-government protesters failed. The original curfew timings of 10pm to 5am were relaxed last week for the convenience of people who work night shifts and who have unavoidable business.
The junta has set up reconciliation centres nationwide to bring people of different political views together for national unity and reform.
Meanwhile, the junta continued to summon activists, academics and those the authorities considered as anti-junta to report themselves. Many were detained for a week and the junta said yesterday that 90 per cent of the detainees have been released.
The National Council for Peace and Order yesterday appointed assistant Army chief-of-staff Lt-General Kampanart Ruddith as director of the Reconciliation Centre for Reforms, the spokesman of the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) said.
Isoc spokesman Colonel Banphot Poonpian said the centre would comprise a head-office committee and four regional committees, which will be formed by the four Isoc regional offices,
The centre would carry out its operations in three stages, the spokesman said.
In the first stage, the centre would invite representatives from all parties to form a working panel, which would then draft a framework for the four regional panels to implement.
The second stage will be implemented in June and focus on the centre and regional offices gathering information and opinions from people concerned.
The third stage will follow in July when the centre and its regional offices will implement the compiled information.
Banphot said the Interior Ministry has also ordered all provincial administrations to set up provincial centres to assist the operations of the Reconciliation Centre for Reforms.
The provincial centres would facilitate all groups to help in the reconciliation efforts, Banphot said.
The operations will be supported by civilian officials, police and military officers and will be also carried out through existing mechanisms, such as the district-level mediation offices and local administrations.