Thailand's martial law killing tourist arrivals

Thailand's martial law killing tourist arrivals

The tourism sector is reiterating its call for the government to lift martial law in the face of losses due to the continued drop in tourist arrivals.

Key tourism groups - Thai Travel Agents Association (ATTA) and Thai Hotels Association (THA) - voiced their concern over the decline in arrivals despite the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)'s many campaigns to woo visitors in the wake of the coup.

ATTA has strongly advised the government to lift martial law, while THA is calling for measures to boost confidence in terms of safety and protect tourists from scams.

Between January and September, international arrivals at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport stood at 9.1 million, down from 11.3 million in the same period last year, according to the Immigration Police Bureau. This shows a 19-per-cent decline.

The bureau also reported that visitors from all regions, with the exception of Eastern Europe, had plunged by 5 to 30 per cent. Visitors from Northeast Asia recorded the biggest decline of 30 per cent, followed by East Asia (29 per cent) and Oceania (16 per cent). Visitors from east European nations, namely Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Commonwealth nations posted a growth.

Arrivals at the two airports in Bangkok - Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang - account for about 60 per cent of total arrivals in the Kingdom. Though the number of arrivals at Suvarnabhumi has continued to drop, Don Mueang recorded a significant increase this year due to the relocation of major budget airlines, such as Thai AirAsia, Nok Air and THAI Smile.

Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn, president of ATTA, said the drop in tourist arrivals was mostly due to the martial law and that many tourists were choosing to travel to other countries.

"Foreigners are still unsure about their safety in the country and feel uncomfortable about coming here at a time when martial law is in force. The only way to return confidence would be to lift this law," he said.

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