Tourism and Sports Permanent Secretary Pongpanu Svetarundra in Phuket yesterday revealed that Chinese tourist advance bookings in Phuket have been slammed with 10-15% cancellations. (See story here.)
In response, Kongsak Koopongsakorn, Vice President of the Thai Hotels Association, told The Phuket News today (July 13), “Ten to 15% is a rough estimate. It is likely to be more than this, but still have to wait for the exact figures.
“We are currently asking for information from the association members who have hotels in Phuket,” he added.
Mr Kongsak, who is also concurrently the President of the Thai Hotels Association Southern Thailand chapter, attributed the main cause of the cancellations to online reports in China and attacks on social media blaming Thailand – and Chinese tour companies – for not taking care of tourists.
“News reports showing disrespectful images of the victims bodies being posted online has not helped, with family members angry over seeing their own family members’ bodies in pictures on the internet,” he added.
“It has turned sadness into anger, and many Chinese have cancelled their travel to the Phuket area,” Mr Kongsak said.
“We hope that is a short-term problem,” he added.
The Thai Hotels Association is working with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) to counter the dive in bookings, Mr Kongsak explained.
“We will soon publish a story that shows in a positive way how Thailand has been sincere in facilitating everything we can for those injured and the families of those killed in the disaster,” he said.
“I have had the opportunity to meet and talk with the people directly affected and the families of those who died, as members from the THA Southern Thailand, especially members in Phuket, have helped with providing assistance
“Overall, they were satisfied with the performance of every Thai organisation (involved),” Mr Kongsak said.
“Things will get better after the last body has been recovered and handed back to the family,” he added.