Tourists to Thailand warned to be vigilant

2013-12-04 10:48
Cape Town – The Thai government has warned tourists in Bangkok to be vigilant amid violent political protests running rife through the city’s streets over the past few weeks.  

The government released a statement stressing that tourists have not been targeted in the ongoing political protests and that most attractions in Bangkok and surrounds are open and operating as per normal.  

Tourists were, however, advised to be vigilant, avoiding areas where crowds may gather and to check travel routes to avoid getting caught in traffic. Public transportation in the city, including BTS Skytrain, MRT Subway, Suvarnabhumi Airport Rail Link’s Express and City Lines, and water-transport have not been affected by the political situation, offering tourists a reliable alternative.

Despite Thai government reassurance, The Star reports that more than 20 countries have warned travellers to avoid Thailand at this time.  

The Hong Kong government has reacted strongly, issuing a "red" outbound travel alert on Bangkok, the second highest in its three-tier warning system, while other Asian countries urged citizens to exercise caution as turmoil continued on the streets, AFP reports.

"Residents intending to visit Bangkok should adjust their travel plans and avoid non-essential travel. Those already there should monitor the situation, attend to personal safety and avoid protests and large gatherings of people," a Hong Kong government spokesman said in a statement.

South African travel agents, however, insist that it’s business (and pleasure) as usual in the “Land of Smiles” and that tourists should not be put off plans to visit the country.

One package tour operator, Holiday Tours, said they are keeping a close eye on the situation and agree that tourists should be vigilant if they visit Bangkok during this time. 

Far East product manager for Holiday Tours, Karen Camm, says they have not seen any cancellations for Thailand bookings, however. “We do not discourage our customers from travelling to Thailand but recommend that they be vigilant and avoid the main locations in Bangkok where the anti-government protests are taking place and where crowds of protesters are gathering.”

Sales representative for Centara Resorts & Hotels, Janine Pienaar, says its hotels have had very few cancellations but they are seeing a slowdown in new bookings, especially for Bangkok, however not much in the south. 

According to the statement, the Thai Government has invoked the Internal Security Act (ISA) in all districts of Bangkok and Nonthaburi, Bang Phli district of Samut Prakan and Lat Lum Kaeo district of Pathum Thani until 31 December 2013 to maintain law and order. The law does not prohibit nor obstruct peaceful demonstration held within the bounds of the law, but it enables security agencies - police, military and civilian - to effectively prevent and mitigate, as much as possible, undue disruption or impact on the safety of the general public.

Useful contact numbers:
Tourism Authority of Thailand Call Centre 1672
Thai Traffic Police Call Centre 1197  
Thai Tourist Police Call Centre 1155
For more information, visit Tourism Thailand’s website.
Read more on:    thailand  |  travel  |  travel international

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