Thailand unrest impacts Australian bookings

Thailand unrest impacts Australian bookings
By admin

A decline in bookings to Thailand has been reported, as violent protests in Bangkok and neighbouring areas surrounded national elections held on Sunday.

The Thai Government placed the country under a 60-day “state of emergency” on January 22 with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade advising travellers to “exercise a high degree of caution”.

“The security environment remains volatile at this time, particularly in Bangkok and surrounding areas,” the Smartraveller website warned.

“In the period surrounding the election, Australians should avoid all polling places, political rallies and protest activities. You should be aware of the potential for confrontation between groups of protestors, and between protestors and members of the security forces.”

The Tourism Authority of Thailand admitted that the current situation will “naturally” have some impact of tourism numbers.

“Some wholesalers have reported that their sale volumes have reduced for about 20% but some said it is a bit too early to predict anything,” a spokesperson said.

However, he expressed the opinion that it remains safe to travel to the destination, although he advised visitors to avoid the areas of protest.

Meanwhile, hotel search site Trivago revealed that the number of Australians searching for Thailand properties has declined by 23% since unrest began in October.

“Prior to these events, Thailand accounted for 10% of searches made by Australians. This has now decreased to 7%,” a statement said.

It identified Phuket as the most affected destination with an 88% decline, with Bangkok, the site of the conflicts, down 29%. The downturn has also affected pricing with January 2014 rates 14% cheaper than the same month the previous year – $242 per night as compared with $281 per night.

However, Flight Centre said no noticeable effect has so far been seen.

“I think people tend to associate the issue with Bangkok and they often consider the city as a stop off point enroute to other locations like Phuket. So, if they are concerned, they either fly in and out or bypass Bangkok entirely,” a spokesperson said.

While G Adventures advised its travellers to stay clear of the protest sites and is closely monitoring the situation, the turmoil has not deterred its customers from heading to the destination, according to Australia and New Zealand head Belinda Ward.

“In spite of recent social unrest in Thailand, G Adventures hasn’t seen any drop off in bookings to Thailand from Australian travellers – G Adventures travellers have always been very resilient," she said.

The need for caution was reiterated by Travel Indochina, which operates nine itineraries in the destination.

“Tourists should avoid areas where demonstrations are taking place and take care to inform themselves regarding the security of areas they intend to visit,” managing director Paul Hole said.

“At the current time, the unrest is limited to specific areas within the city of Bangkok. The rest of Thailand continues to welcome tourists as normal.”

He advised those due to depart for Bangkok in the coming days to monitor the situation via regular updates on its website, or to give them a call for more information.

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