Concerns Raised Over Thailand Tourism

Bangkok is in the midst of political unrest, and while the tourism sector is managing to keep its head afloat it is not without its concerns.

"Our concerns are two-fold," says Mark Siegel, CEO of Golfasian Co. Ltd., a Bangkok-based golf tour operator. "While 99 percent of the country's hotels and golf courses and restaurants are operating as normal, the more important concern is that we continue to have dozens of clients in country. We have to look out for their welfare and assure them that their safety isn't an issue because, in my view, it isn't."

This statement came on the heals of a riot on April 10 that left 21 dead.

Siegel's second concern is the long-term effects of these events, especially after countries including Russia, South Korea and China advised citizens to postpone their trips to Bangkok.

Thailand's Fiscal Policy Office warned that tourism numbers could drop 20 percent this year, and some analysts are even predicting that up to $500 million could be lost from the economy.

Siegel remains hopeful for a tourism rebound. Thailand has experienced raucous protests and rallies since the 1930s and has always managed to rebound. However, "It's disrespectful and simply untrue to assert that things are going forward as normal, and will go forward as normal. This is the worst political violence in 20 years," says Siegal.

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