Singaporeans still visiting Thailand despite MFA note of caution

A Government notice advising Singaporean tourists to exercise vigilance when visiting Thailand has not deterred them from taking holidays there, travel agents say.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) issued the notice on Tuesday, advising caution in the wake of five incidents in the country last year - most noticeably the bomb blast at the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok on Aug 17 last year which killed 20 people, including one Singaporean, and injured 125.

However, tour companies say they have not had any cancellations since it was issued.

Dynasty Travel and Chan Brothers Travel have not received inquiries on the safety of travel in Thailand. They added that they have established safety precautions for customers travelling to Thailand, including a 24-hour emergency hotline. They also advise customers to purchase travel insurance and register with the MFA when travelling overseas.

Chan Brothers spokesman Yeo Mui Ling said: "We closely monitor the local situation and assess its continual development through our overseas counterparts or local guides and tour leaders on the road."

Ms Alicia Seah, director of public relations and communications at Dynasty Travel, said that although last August's bombing caused an immediate slump in tour bookings, demand picked up after two months.

Thailand is a perennial favourite of Singaporeans due to its proximity and affordability. The country is especially popular during the June school holidays among families.

Ms Prabhmeet Kaur Hundal, 23, who is currently on her second trip to Chiang Mai, said the bomb incidents had discouraged her from visiting Bangkok and Phuket but did not stop her from travelling to Thailand completely.

"It makes me cautious and I would be more mindful, but I don't feel less safe," said Ms Hundal, who recently completed her studies at NUS. "I have stayed in Chiang Mai before and I feel safer here than in Bangkok."

The MFA advised Singaporeans to keep themselves updated about latest developments through Thai news outlets and heed the instructions of local authorities.

The notice added: "Singaporeans are also advised to take all necessary precautions to ensure their personal safety, including purchasing comprehensive travel insurance and be familiar with the terms and coverage of the insurance policies."

feliciac@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on June 10, 2016.
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