Terror warnings ‘did not hit numbers’
The Director of Suvarnabhumi Airport has revealed that there was no fall in the number of tourists travelling to Thailand, despite recent warnings of possible terrorist attacks on tourism hotspots.
Thursday 26 January 2012, 11:09AM
However, the Chairman of the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA), Sittiwat Cheevarattanaporn, said that the warnings had forced travel agents to relocate their clients, particularly Japanese, Chinese and Taiwanese visitors, to locations away from Khao San Rd, Bang Lamphu and Soi Sukhumvit 22, all mentioned in travel advisories issued by those countries.
ATTA said that, coming on the back of the floods, the terrorism warnings had resulted in a fall in the number of tour groups coming to Thailand for the Chinese New Year.
It said that fewer than 70,000 tourists from China were expected to arrive in Thailand during the holiday period, compared with more than 100,000 in recent years.
ATTA pleaded with the Government to speak with other countries about the warnings, with a view to reviving tourism.
But Suvarnabhumi Airport Director Somchai Sawasdipol was emphatic that the overall number of tourists coming through the airport had not dropped.
Mr Somchai insisted that the number of flights and tourists arriving in Thailand has not fallen.
He said an average of 1,000 inbound flights continue to land at Suvarnabhumi Airport every day, and approximately 150,000-160,000 tourist arrivals a day are being recorded.
He added that the National Intelligence Agency of the Royal Thai Police is monitoring the situation closely after terror alerts were issued by various countries.
Lebanese citizen and suspected Hezbollah member Hussein Atris was arrested on January 12. Police found 4.4 tonnes of urea-based fertiliser and 290 litres of ammonium nitrate – both potential bomb-making chemicals – on the second floor of a building rented by him in Samut Sakhon.
On January 13 the US State Department issued a warning to travellers, stating “This message alerts US citizens in Thailand that foreign terrorists may be currently looking to conduct attacks against tourist areas in Bangkok in the near future.”
That warning has now been dropped.