Published on : Friday, January 17, 2014
Status quo prevailed as far as the law and order situation was concerned in the ongoing anti-government demonstrations in Bangkok that continue to take place at six downtown intersections – Pathumwan, Rajaprasong, Saladaeng, Lat Phrao, Asoke, the Victory Monument, and the Government Complex on Chaeng Wattana Road.
The atmosphere around the rally sites was peaceful. Commuters and travellers can still commute to and from their desired destinations using roads and expressways that remain opened to traffic away from protest sites. For those staying near the rally sites, they can connect to their destinations using other available means of transport such as the SkyTrain, the subway and the airport rail link or the boat and ferry service.
Here it should be stressed that tourists have not been targeted in the ongoing political demonstrations. However, tourists are advised to be vigilant and avoid areas where crowds may gather as there may be traffic disruptions or delays, thus causing inconvenience.
Life in Bangkok and throughout Thailand continues as per normal. Businesses and tourist attractions and activities are open. Telephone landlines, mobile and internet services continue to be available as per normal.
All airports in Bangkok and throughout the country are open and operating as normal. Air passengers are advised to check flight status prior to traveling.
However, there are certain changes in the situation in the other areas of the city. How are the street protests affecting hotels and tourist arrivals?
•Centara Hotels has reduced room rates of its four major hotels by 40 per cent to about Bt3,100, including breakfast, down from Bt5,000 per night.
•Novotel Bangkok Siam Square is offering a special discount price of Bt2,200 per night for an overnight room, and Bt1,500 for daytime stays until 6pm. This promotional rate excludes breakfast and will run until the end of this month.
• Supawan Tanomkieatipume chairwoman for public relations at the Thai Hotels Association, who is also executive assistant manager of sales and marketing at the Twin Towers Hotel, said many hotel operators, especially near rally sites such as Pathumwan, had adjusted their business strategies by cutting costs as much as possible. The hotel had gradually cut temporary staff, especially temporary staff for each function of approximately 20 staff. However, the permanent staff of 400 has been maintained as per normal.
•Despite the woes of some Bangkok hotels, however, the Kingdom’s overall tourism industry
outside of Bangkok has not suffered too badly since the shutdown started on Monday, TAT
revealed. This is evidenced by a continuing flow of foreign arrivals, especially to major provinces.
As for mainland Chinese, they have changed their trips to avoid protest-hit Bangkok, heading to Pattaya, Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai instead.
Hong Kong has also maintained its travel warning on Thailand at Level 4 (the second- highest), “reconsider your need to travel”. The flow of Russian and European tourists is stable.
Europeans have continued heading to beach resorts in the south on direct flights from their home nations and also via Bangkok. As for Russians, they are avoiding Bangkok and heading to Pattaya, Phuket or Krabi.
Airlines in SINGAPORE are cutting back on some flights to Bangkok and are scaling back
capacity in the face of weaker demand for travel to the capital. Budget carrier Tiger Airways, for example, is cancelling six flights between Singapore and the Thai capital from Jan 20 to 27.
Thai Airways has cancelled some flights and merged others, as well as changed aircraft type, swopping the Airbus A380 for the Boeing 747-400 on some routes; these have been for the Bangkok-Hong Kong sector and domestic flights to Chiang Mai and Khon Kaen.
Rawewan Netarakavesana, the general manager of Suvarnabhumi Airport, has advised passengers to take the Airport Rail Link, which is running at higher frequencies, to Suvarnabhumi and to use the BTS SkyTrain and MRT Metro when travelling within the capital.
Despite the ongoing protests, Thailand’s tourism industry pulled in more tourists last year than in 2012, going by updated figures from the Thai authorities. Some 26.73 million travellers made their way to the Land of Smiles last year; this was a 19.6 percent year-on-year increase; 936,477 visitors from Singapore went to Thailand, a jump of nearly 13 percent over 2012.
The rise in the number of all visitors travelling to Thailand reportedly slowed to some 6.7 per cent in December, which was when the political stand-off started to hot up; the rise for November had been 18 per cent.
Thailand’s air traffic communications body said yesterday it had back-up operations to ensure no disruption to air travel if hardline anti-government protesters attempt to shut down its main control center.