New Delhi, May 22 :
With Thailand’s complex political scene adding to growing confusion, the capital city of Bangkok is on the verge of collapsing as a popular tourist destination, say tour operators here.
The city’s vibrant street life, cultural landmarks, beautiful beaches and landscapes as well as its notorious red-light districts give it an exotic appeal which attracts thousands of tourists every year. The tourists comprise mainly Indians, Poles, Australians and Israelis. The Suvarnabhumi International Airport of Bangkok is the 16th busiest airport in the world, and also the sixth busiest in Asia.
But due to the ongoing Thai political crisis that started from November last year, Bangkok has seen a sudden decrease in tourism.
The crisis started last November when Thailand’s anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee organised large-scale protests in Bangkok to oust former caretaker prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
According to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) office in New Delhi, Bangkok is hugely preferred by Indians and a big part of Thailand’s tourism revenue comes from India.
According to the TAT, if nothing is done to curb the political unrest, Thailand’s tourism industry might face a huge loss in the coming high season from November 2014 to March 2015.
“Thailand has always been a very popular tourist destination among Indian tourists. No matter what the occasion is, Bangkok seems to be the first preference since it is cheaper than any other foreign holiday destinations and offers you the best of entertainment,” Karan Anand, public relations manager of Cox & Kings in Mumbai, told IANS.
“The current political unrest in Bangkok which has been continuing for the past five-six months has slightly deferred the interests of the people from visiting Thailand. So far, no customer has complained of any uncomfortable situation in Bangkok as the protests in the city so far have been peaceful,” he said.
“We are facing a lot of problems due to the current situation in Bangkok. A lot of trips are being cancelled since February. Two groups of 50 corporates cancelled their trip to Thailand last month because of this crisis. We are constantly facing challenges,” Kapil Sharma of SOTC in New Delhi said.
However, travel firm Thomas Cook has not reported any loss in its Thai packages.
“There might be rising political unrest in Bangkok, but it has not affected our business at all. We are still booking packages every month. No cancellations have been reported till date,” said Abhishek of Thomas Cook, New Delhi.
Indians residing in Bangkok too think that the crisis is affecting Thai tourism.
“Thailand tourism has definitely been affected by the crisis. For tourists, Bangkok might not be a good place to visit now,” said Lekha Shankar, a Bangkok-based journalist.
“Many tourists are still unaware of the tensions going on in Bangkok as the protests have been quite peaceful. But, yes, Bangkok is becoming quite dangerous since the ousting (of Yinluck Shinawatra) as the protesters have entered the city and you never know where a riot may emerge or a bomb might explode,” Bangkok based web-developer Sanghamitra Konwar said.