Saturday, Dec 20, 2014

From beaches to Bangkok, tourists in Thailand ask ‘What coup?’

Tourists are kicking back on the country's famed beaches and sightseeing in Bangkok. (Source: AP) Tourists are kicking back on the country's famed beaches and sightseeing in Bangkok. (Source: AP)
By: Press Trust of India | Bangkok | Posted: May 27, 2014 8:05 pm

is lifted soon and democracy restored,” she told the Phuket Gazette newspaper.

More than 40 countries have issued travel alerts, including the U.S. and Hong Kong, which have advised citizens to avoid non-essential travel to Thailand.

In Hong Kong, a major source of visitors to Thailand, the Travel Industry Council reported that travel agents canceled at least 70 tour groups this week involving 1,300 people.

Hotels in Bangkok say the coup has kept them busy _ with nonstop cancellations.

“We have received more than 650 cancellations in the past five days,” said Deepak Ohri, chief executive of the 358-room Lebua hotel, whose dizzyingly high rooftop Sky Bar was featured in “The Hangover Part II.”

The 5-star hotel is offering promotions it calls “Staycations” to entice locals to come for drinks or dinner and spend the night _ and avoid rushing home for curfew. The Swissotel Nai Lert Park has announced a similar “Beat the Curfew” rate for residents through June.

Hotels say they are waiting for events to unfold before slashing rates for overseas visitors. The junta warned this week that it won’t tolerate dissent or protest, raising concerns of a crackdown on anti-coup protesters.

“If this continues another week, there will be a price war,” Ohri said. “Then again if civil war happens, hotel price wars have no significance.”

Other businesses that cater to tourists are finding various ways to adapt. The go-go bars in the Patpong red-light district are opening three hours earlier than usual because the curfew clears out customers by 9:30 p.m.

As curfew approached Monday night, the blaring music stopped along Silom Road, where side streets are crammed with clubs, pubs and restaurants. As the neon lights switched off and tourists emerged trying to flag down taxis, a few bars tested the curfew and stayed open.

“People are starting to push the curfew, slowly,” said Simon Robinson, a 51-year-old Englishman seated on a bar’s terrace in a darkened street at 10:15 p.m. “It makes you feel a bit naughty to be out past curfew.”

comments powered by Disqus