Despite the issuing of a travel advisory warning by more than two dozen countries, and a rush by some countries to evacuate nationals, the events on the ground at Thailand’s popular tourist centres paints a different picture. There have been no violent incidents or threats to personal safety of tourists, even in Bangkok, with events confined to the protests at the two main airports and parts of the administrative suburb of the capital.
Thailand’s tourist industry has suffered catastrophic damage as the negative publicity mounts from more than a week of disrupted flights into and out of the country’s main gateway. Meanwhile, tourists currently in Thailand have experienced no untoward incidents other than the severe inconvenience of travelling or leaving the country.
More than 100,000 tourists are said to be stranded in Bangkok or Pattaya, where they have been accommodated at the expense of the government, as they wait for contingency flights out of U-Tapao military airport. Air travel to the capital has ceased and movement around the country is being conducted overland. The airport crisis is expected to come to an end later in the week, when a key ruling against the ruling party might force them to step down, which will bring an end to the protest stand off.
However, the situation remains tense as Thailand descends into its worst political crisis in years, with a deeply divided nation and two small but militant opposing groups who are rallying on opposite sides of Bangkok. Although violent clashes are not expected, there is uncertainty about the reaction to the Tuesday ruling, which pro-government supporters believe has been unfairly rushed. The army has so far remained neutral insisting that a coup will not be an answer, but might step in if the government and police fail to control the situation.
Tourists in Chiang Mai, Phuket, and other areas away from Bangkok have been reporting a normal situation that has not disturbed their holidays but remain anxious about travel.
An Abac poll conducted among Thais over the weekend revealed that more than 80% are dismayed and embarrassed about the events in the country and support neither side. Many expressed hope for a peaceful and rapid solution, saying that a House Dissolution would best diffuse the situation and send the opposing protesters home.