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Phuket tourism readies for fallout from Bangkok bomb attack

PHUKET: Leading figures in Phuket’s tourism industry today said it was too early to tell if Phuket will suffer as a result of the bomb blast at Bangkok’s Erawan Shrine last night (August 17).

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By Tanyaluk Sakoot

Tuesday 18 August 2015, 07:06PM


Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul said  it was too early to comment and estimate the damage to tourism. Photo: TAT

Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul said it was too early to comment and estimate the damage to tourism. Photo: TAT

Indeed, Phuket might even benefit from tourists avoiding the capital, The Phuket News was told.

Sathirapong Na Takuatoong, President of the Phuket Tourist Association, said that he had yet to learn of any immediate mass cancellations to Phuket.

“It is still too early to tell. We won’t know for the next few days or even weeks. The true impact will not be known for at least three months,” he said.

“We will meet on Friday to discuss possible strategies if mass cancellations begin.”

PTA Vice President Sarayuth Mallam said he believed Phuket’s tourism industry would not not suffer, as the island has never been a target of political violence or terror attacks.

“No, I don’t think it will have any effect on Phuket’s tourism because we have never been the target of any politic activities and we are so far from Bangkok. Pattaya might be, if they [the bombers] start plainly targeting tourists,” he said.

However, he noted that prudent security measures must be taken.

“I have spoken with Phuket police and the governor and they confirmed that security measures have been increased,” he said.

“There are more checkpoints keeping an eye on ground transportation, not only in Phuket but also at checkpoints on the roads from Bangkok to Phuket and at Phuket International Airport.

“We are well aware of the security risk.”

Mr Sarayuth noted that Phuket might even benefit from Bangkok’s woes,as it did during the long-standing political protests in 2010, when tourists flocked to Phuket in order to avoid the unrest in Bangkok.

“Now tourists have many more options in coming to Phuket. We have more direct flights from overseas than ever before, and so they can come here without travelling through Bangkok. They might take advantage of this,” Mr Sarayuth said.

Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul said the ministry was closely monitoring the situation following the security authority’s information, reported TTR Weekly.

“The ministry will discuss the situation later today with tourism related sectors both public and private organisations.”

Minister Kobkarn also said that it was too early to comment and estimate the damage to tourism.

“The explosion will impact tourism in the short term, but it also depends on the security authorities and how they conduct the investigation,” she said.

Anoma Vongyai, Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Phuket office, met with Phuket Governor Nisit Jansomwong and other leading island officials this morning.

“We have yet to determine the impact on Phuket’s tourism. We will monitor the inbound tourism situation and if need be we will look at strategies to counter any potential outfall,” she told The Phuket News this afternoon.

“But most importantly, security has been increased for tourists and for all residents in Phuket,” she added.

TAT offices in countries abroad will be kept up to date, Ms Anoma said.

“The TAT is posting situation updates. Please keep checking the TAT News website (click here) for updates,” she said.

Meanwhile, Association of Thai Travel Agents former president Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn said that Chinese media had already reported the news and that had caused tour operators to immediately ask for clarification from their travel partners in Thailand.

However, he added, “So far, there are no cancellations from Chinese tour operators,” reported TTR Weekly.

The impact is likely to be localised, he added.

“The shrine is not popular with tour groups from mainland China, but it does attract hundreds of independent tourists from Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan,” he said

“[The] Erawan worship [tour] programme will be adjusted or moved during the investigation.”

“Tourist confidence will also impacted by this incident as it is an area where there are many five-star hotels that cater to business travellers.”

 

Read the original TTR Weekly report here.

Additional reporting by Saroj Kueprasertkij.

 

 

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duncan@worthington.asia | 19 August 2015 - 08:24:56

"PTA Vice President Sarayuth Mallam said he believed Phuket’s tourism industry would not not suffer, as the island has never been a target of political violence or terror attacks."

When the yellow shirts closed the Phuket Airport, not political?

Please, at least be honest. Phuket (and Thailand) deserves honesty and transparency. Not misinformation and protectionism.

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