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Political turmoil blamed for less lively Songkran

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Political Turmoil Blamed For Less Lively Songkran
By Khaosod English

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Sanga Ruangwattanakul, the president of the Khaosan Road Business Association, said the political situation is 100% to blame.

BANGKOK—The number of foreigners flocking to Bangkok for the Thai New Year is down from last year, says the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

In the first half of April, the number of international tourists coming to Thailand dropped to 937,000, a five percent decrease from the same time last year. The number of foreign visitors was especially low in Bangkok, the centre of the country’s political turmoil.

Thailand's tourism sector has been suffering since the end of last year, when anti-government protestors first took to the streets in Bangkok in an attempt to overthrow Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and rid the country of her family’s influence. The tourism industry was dealt another blow in January, when an uptick in violence led the government to declare a state of emergency that lasted for two months of what is normally Thailand’s peak season for tourists.

Tourism has increased since the state of emergency was lifted in March, but numbers during Songkran—a key week for the tourist industry—are still lower than normal.

“We thought we could recoup some of the losses during Songkran because it is the peak season of our business, but it didn’t turn out so well," said Piyapat Sathiansood, the manager of a restaurant on Khaosan Road.

Despite the lifting of the state of emergency last month, at least 50 countries still maintain advisories against traveling to Thailand.

When asked what’s to blame for this year’s decline in tourists, many Khaosan Road business owners agreed on a culprit: the political protests that have taken a hold of Bangkok since last November.

Several violent clashes have also erupted in the past four months, including the deadly confrontation between police officers and anti-government demonstrators on Ratchadamnoen Avenue in February – a stone throw from Khaosan Road.

Khaosan Road street vendor Dang Sanitwong Na Ayutthaya attributes the lack of foreign tourists to the roadblocks that anti-government protestors maintained around the city for months, especially the barricade that still spans the nearby Phan Fa Bridge.

“Suppose the foreigners want to come to Khaosan, their taxi may not get here because there are roadblocks everywhere,” Ms. Dang said. “And imagine the tour companies, they can’t just come and park their cars over here, so they avoid this area all together.”

But for restaurant manager Ms. Piyapat, the blame lies with the government.

“I don’t fault the protestors,” Ms. Piyapat said. “I think the government is at fault because it used force against the protestors. There have been attacks on demonstrators in the past few months and I think it’s this kind of image that will be transmitted to the world.”

Police Lt. Narin Chantana said he thinks the proximity of protestors to Khaosan Road has not affected the safety of the tourist hotspot, only its perception abroad.

“Even though the PCAD is camping right there, I personally think it has had no direct effect at all,” said Mr. Narin, referring to the People's Committee for Absolute Democracy With the King As Head of State. “I think it affects only the image of Thailand."

Sanga Ruangwattanakul, the president of the Khaosan Road Business Association, said he would like to see the government do more aggressive PR overseas.

“When I travel around to Hong Kong, Singapore, the only thing I see on TV overseas is violence. That’s why people are not coming to Bangkok,” Mr. Sanga said. “[The government] should do something about this.”

Yet while the overall number of tourists is down, the decrease in foreigners celebrating Songkran this year was partially picked up by a surge in the number of local revelers. The number of Thais ringing in the New Year on Khaosan Road was up by 20% compared to last year, said Mr. Sanga.

Mr. Sanga said the influx of Thai celebrators helped prevent major losses among local bars and restaurants, but guesthouses and hotels were still hit hard by the lack of foreign visitors.

"Some, especially in the hospitality business, are laying people off, not hiring more people, and not hiring part-time workers," said Mr. Sanga. “A lot of money has left the business.”

With political unrest expected to pick up in Bangkok after the end of the holiday, many business owners along Khaosan Road remain wary about the future.

Street vendor Mrs. Dang said she just wants Khaosan Road to return back to normal.

“I thought back in 2010, the Redshirt crisis was already bad,” said Ms. Dang. “But this is even worse.”

Source: http://en.khaosod.co.th/detail.php?newsid=1397726050

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-- Khaosod English 2014-04-17

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BKK Songkran is for pussy's - come to Pattaya for a real Songkran this weekend clap2.gif

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Huh! And to think for the three days, all I saw was tons of Mainland Chinese armed with waterguns in the BTS and MRt trains .....surprised to know that they say not much tourists. Plus there were tons of gay Chinese muscle marys from Sinagpore , Malaysia, Philippines and Taiwan all here to attend the gay parties sponsored by central group and also to help spread various strains of HIV to poor unsuspecting poor local lads. TAT and thais should have been so proud.

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BKK Songkran is for pussy's - come to Pattaya for a real Songkran this weekend clap2.gif

Oh right, I wondered why it was quiet in Pattaya, must have got my dates mixed:)

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Huh! And to think for the three days, all I saw was tons of Mainland Chinese armed with waterguns in the BTS and MRt trains .....surprised to know that they say not much tourists. Plus there were tons of gay Chinese muscle marys from Sinagpore , Malaysia, Philippines and Taiwan all here to attend the gay parties sponsored by central group and also to help spread various strains of HIV to poor unsuspecting poor local lads. TAT and thais should have been so proud.

Whoa dude...

I am amazed that you noticed this of all things during songkran....

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Quiet or not quiet; it didn't stop the road deaths did it, bad enough numbers dead as it is, so how many more would have died if it had been a 'lively' Songkran ?

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BKK Songkran is for pussy's - come to Pattaya for a real Songkran this weekend clap2.gif

Pattaya is the worst smelling city i've ever been in. The entire city smells like gonoreah or something. I'd rather not get sprayed with that water.

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