Thailand's tourism is flailing as the country's political turmoil takes a turn for the worst, reports the Bangkok Post.
The city of Bangkok has been overwhelmed with bombings, gunfire and grenade blasts, shattering the country's image as one of the choice destinations in Southeast Asia.
Numbers out of Thailand's Suvarnabhumi Airport are showing that arrivals are down almost two thirds.
Thailand's top hotels including Dusit Thani (which was under grenade attack on May 17, according to the New York Times), Four Seasons, Centara Grand @ CentaraWorld, Grand Hyatt Erawan, Hilton and Intercontinental have closed for business during this time.
Charoen Wanganaond, spokeman for the Federation of Thai Tourism Associations, said it was "impossible" for the country to reach its tourist target of 14 million arrivals. "It's hard to say what will happen, as the situation is ongoing and who knows how it will end," he told the Bangkok Post. "This is the worst crisis ever faced in the history of the Thai tourism industry."
But amidst the black clouds of violence that hang over Thailand, there can still be a silver lining for those who are eager to see it. Tourists departing Thailand were asked if they would ever return, and quite a number replied yes. Canadian Mila Bridger aid she "hated to leave" the country. "I love diving in Thailand. It is heaven for us," she said. "We will come back for sure. But I think tourists coming here should avoid Bangkok, since many places are like a war zone. But you can and should go to other provinces, such as Phuket or Koh Lanta."
"I am dumbstruck to see so many places in Bangkok labelled red zones," said Michael Hunt, a frequent visitor to Thailand. "Thais are very nice people and I don't know what happened to make them fight each other. "I will stay only one night in Thailand and take a connecting flight tomorrow. But I think I will take holiday here again next year. Hopefully, the situation will be over by then."
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