HOTELS in Surat Thani's Koh Samui are tightening security measures following a bomb blast at a shopping mall on Friday night, while tourists are advised to be cautious when at public areas.
Samui Airport, under the management of Bangkok Airways, has tightened security to ensure passenger safety following the incident.
Supawan Tanomkieatipume, vice president of the Thai Hotels Association, said the bomb blast at a parking lot at Central Samui would scare tourists and local residents, but she expected the impact to be limited.
"I believe that the impact on tourism will be limited, as the event is being investigated by police and is not widespread," she said.
She added that hotels in Samui as well as in other major cities would tighten security in a bid to make people feel safer.
Supawan does not believe the bombing was politically motivated, and might have been the result of a conflict between locals or a personal issue.
"There's been no immediate cancellations by tourists who have booked hotel rooms in Samui during the Songkran Festival," she said.
According to Supawan, Samui is one of the top five destinations for local and international tourists in Thailand.
The famous island plans to celebrate the traditional Thai New Year from tomorrow until Wednesday, along with 15 other destinations across the country.
During the Songkran Festival, about 500,000 foreign tourists are expected to travel to the Kingdom, while about 2 million locals are expected to travel within the country.
Hotels in major tourist destinations such as Phuket, Pattaya, Chiang Mai and Samui are forecast to run at a 78 per cent average occupancy rate, 6.2 per up on the same time last year.
Hotels in Phuket are tipped to operate at the high average occupancy rate of 87 per cent, while business at hotels in Bangkok is expected to grow 12.2 per cent across the board year on year. The capital alone is forecast to receive about 2.5 million visitors during the festival.
In the first quarter, there were 7.8 million international arrivals to Thailand, up 23 per cent year on year. The sector is expected to continue to grow thanks to the lifting of martial law.
Samui Airport has tightened security after the explosion, its director Nutchayathorn Nutsudanijvipa said yesterday.
"Samui Airport has increased its security alert since Friday, following the recent incident. All vehicles entering the airport's premises and parking areas are thoroughly checked. Parking close to airport buildings and overnight parking is temporarily prohibited," she said.
Besides 24-hour CCTV monitoring, the number of security personnel has been increased to monitor the airport premises and the surrounding areas, especially the airport's terminals.
Additionally, Samui Airport is in close collaboration with local government agencies, including the police and military forces, with K9 units to help in the screening of passenger baggage before entering airport terminals. The airport has alerted and advised all airlines to strictly follow these procedures.
"These applied measures will ensure the passengers the highest security orders are implemented by the airport. Moreover, an Emergency Control Unit has been set up at the airport to assist passengers with information and advice. At present, Samui Airport is operating normally," the airport director said.