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Thailand Still Open for Business Despite Protests

September 3, 2008 By: Mark Rogers

Thailand is ready to welcome visitors despite protests and a state of emergency announced by Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej.

As the political stand-off in Thailand continues, tourism is being adversely affected, although almost all tourism facilities and services continue to operate normally. Protests are currently limited to the immediate area around Government House in Bangkok and visitors to Bangkok are advised to avoid this area. The state of emergency announced by Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej on Tuesday followed clashes among protesters in Bangkok and temporary disruption at regional airports, including Phuket.

The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) has gathered industry views to accurately describe what prospective travelers can expect in Thailand. Bangkok International Airport is operating normally and services have resumed as normal at Phuket airport. There continues to be some concern about Hat Yai airport, although all other regional airports are operating normally. Major surface routes between Bangkok and other parts of Thailand are unaffected, although there may be disruptions to rail services to some provinces. Bangkok's city taxi and rail services are unaffected. All hotels and resorts in Bangkok and throughout Thailand are open for business as usual. All tourist attractions, shopping center, markets, restaurants and clubs are operating normally in Bangkok and throughout the country.

"Many of Thailand's prospective visitors are understandably reluctant to travel when they hear about a state of emergency being declared and see images of violent clashes in media reports," said PATA President and CEO Peter de Jong. "The reality, however, is that life is continuing as normal in Bangkok and Thailand and that, as of September 3, there is minimal threat to the safety of visitors to the Kingdom."

It remains to be seen how media coverage of the protests and the travel advisory affects tourism to Thailand in the coming season.

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