Vibrant Thai Tourist Sector Braces For Impact Of Deadly Mother's Day

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Vibrant Thai Tourist Sector Braces For Impact Of Deadly Mother's Day

A worker removes flowers left from people who prayed at Erawan Shrine in Bangkok. (Reuters)


BANGKOK:  On what should be a bonanza long weekend for the tourist industry in a seaside playground favoured by Thailand's royal family, shops and restaurants are shuttered, streets are empty and security forces are advising people to stay in their hotels.

The resort of Hua Hin was rocked by four bombs less than 12 hours apart that killed two people and wounded 24, as thousands flocked to its hotels and beaches for a long weekend to celebrate the Queen's birthday, which is also Mother's Day in Thailand.

"It's a ghost town now," said Irish tourist Tim Kelleher. "Usually this place is so popular."

The bombings were part of a series of attacks on world-renowned seaside resorts in southern Thailand that may jeopardise the Southeast Asian nation's target of luring a record 32 million visitors in 2016.

Tourism is one of the only growth sectors in Thailand, and accounts for 10 percent of an economy that has struggled under the stewardship of a military government that seized power two years ago.

"It's bad for the economy, which is limping along on one leg, and now we have these incidents," Ittirit Kinglek, the president of the Tourism Council of Thailand, told Reuters.

"It will definitely have an impact on tourism, but it's too early to estimate how it will affect tourist numbers and revenues."

Other blasts hit the island of Phuket, a resort town in Phang Nga province, and Surat Thani, the jumping off point for travellers heading to the white sandy beaches of Gulf of Thailand islands such as Koh Samui.

No group has claimed responsibility, though suspicion could fall on insurgents from Muslim-majority provinces in southern Thailand. Police and security analysts said the small devices appeared to be aimed more at sending a message than causing widespread death and destruction.

Embassies in Thailand warned their citizens to stay vigilant on Friday and some warned that there could be more attacks.

Australia, the source of just over 800,000 visitors to Thailand in 2015, issued a travel advisory saying Australians should "exercise a high degree of caution", and warned that "further explosions in any part of Thailand are possible."

China, the single biggest source of tourists to Thailand with nearly 8 million visitors in 2015, told citizens to avoid crowded areas and pay close attention to security developments.
© Thomson Reuters 2016


(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


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