Thailand Operator: Effect On Tourism is Issue of “Wait and See”

Now that the Associated Press has reported that the leaders of a group of anti-government protesters in Thailand say the week-long siege of Bangkok’s airports will end Wednesday morning, industry representatives now have to wait to see how, if at all, tourism will be influenced.

Travel Agent spoke with Leslie Seden, president of AER World Tours, a Minneapolis-based tour operator that sends roughly 300 travelers to Thailand a year, and learned that her company, as well as other Thailand representatives, simply have to assess the situation before determining whether holiday travelers heading there should cancel their plans. “From everything we heard, it appears as though everything is getting settled there, but you can never tell with these things,” Seden told us. “Now, we just have to wait and see how every[thing] turns out."

At least for now, luck has been on AER's side. Seden told us about 25-30 people her company recently sent there just arrived back home in November, dodging an airport crisis that influenced nearly 3,000 passengers. Seden says she has about five couples slated to visit Thailand in late December, but has received just one phone call from a travel agent expressing concern. “There are a lot of issues everyone has to look into from now until then, but as of right now, it doesn’t look like we’ll get many cancellations.”

According to the AP, a government official says the first flights out of Suvarnabhumi International Airport will leave for Rome and Sydney December 5. People’s Alliance for Democracy leader Sondhi Limthongkul says thousands of protesters who have been camped at the international airport and the domestic Don Muang Airport will leave by Wednesday morning.

“We have had a lot of people calling and asking about whether they were okay to go,” Chet Jusakui, information officer for the Tourism Authority of Thailand, told Travel Agent. “But as [of] right now, it doesn’t look like travel there will be effected.”