Thailand tourism has plummeted in the wake of Saturday’s bloody demonstrations in Bangkok. As anti-government protesters swarmed into the capital city, many businesses have found themselves surrounded.
Upscale malls, luxury hotels, office buildings and bank branches, especially those on the popular Ratchadamnoen Avenue, have been forced to shut down.
The Federation of Thai Industries estimates that the Thailand stands to lose more than $1 billion in tourism if the violence continues.
The violence on Saturday was the worst in nearly two decades, leaving 21 people dead as a result of battles between protesters and police.
Forty-three countries have issued travel warnings to Bangkok, including the U.S. Embassy. The Embassy has warned ex-pats and American travelers about the possibility of violence and the uncertainty of the political situation.
Though foreigners have not been targeted in the protests, the violence has caused many tourist and trade groups to postpone trips to Bangkok. According to the Bangkok Post, international tourist arrivals at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport have dropped by 15 percent since the protests began.
If the protests continue, the Federation of Thai Tourism Associations has estimated that it could cost the country one million foreign tourists.
Local merchants say the demonstrations have cost them millions of dollars, and they have urged both sides of the conflict to find a solution. Unfortunately, an April 2 rally of 1,000 Thailand tourism operators did little to reconcile the government and its Red Shirt opponents.
Because of the violence, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has raised the travel alert warning in the Bangkok to “red.” Under this travel warning, tourists heading toward Bangkok can be fully refunded for their package tours.
By Adriana Padilla for PeterGreenberg.com.
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