Bangkok blast a hard blow for Thai tourism recovery (photoblog)

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Bangkok_bomb attack1_Arno Maierbrugger
The Erawan shrine in Bangkok reopened on August 19 for worshipers and mourners © Arno Maierbrugger

Thailand’s tourism industry, just as it was on the way to recovery from last year’s coup and the subsequent imposition of martial law countrywide, has been dealt a heavy blow by the fatal bombing in Downtown Bangkok on August 17.

While there are still tourists around, many of them now have a nervous look in their eyes – and many of the normally well patronised restaurants and bars in the Sukhumvit area were almost empty in the days after the blast – more so, as the discovery of a suspicious object has lead to a closedown two exits of Nana BTS station on August 19. The item, however, fortunately turned out to be just a dummy bomb.

Thai authorities set up extra security around Bangkok, and the Royal Thai Police urged tourists to exercise caution when out and about. Tourism groups mobilised to provide interpreters and change travel arrangements.

More than 20 countries have issued travel alerts, including the US, Australia, China and Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Canada, Germany, Austria, New Zealand, Russia and the UK.

Hong Kong’s security bureau urged citizens to adjust travel plans and avoid non-essential trips such as leisure travel to Bangkok, which represented a “significant threat.” This “red alert” is Hong Kong’s second strongest tier of travel advisory in its three-tier system.

China told citizens to remain alert when traveling to Thailand after four Chinese tourists were killed in Monday’s bombing.

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade notified citizens to “exercise a high degree of caution” in Thailand, steering clear of demonstrations or political rallies and avoiding southern provinces entirely. “The security situation remains volatile,” the department said.

The US Embassy in Bangkok urged travelers to maintain a high level of vigilance and monitor news.

Thai Airways said that 20 per cent of travelers changed their flight plans for Thailand after the bomb explosion, according to President Charamporn Jotikasthira, who added that he hopes the situation would “soon return to normal.”

But it is very clear that the bombings will hurt rebuilding efforts in the tourism sector after the 2014 coup.

“The explosion that struck a major tourism hot spot in the heart of Bangkok on August 17 could undermine the recovery of the tourism industry, deepening the country’s economic woes,” a report by BMI Research said.

The blast also fell in the high season when tourist spots in the city are usually extremely busy.

Thailand originally forecast 28.5 to 29 million foreign tourists to visit the country this year, according to Minister of Tourism and Sports Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, up from 24.7 million in 2014. The total number of visitors until July 2015 stood at 17.5 million and the year-end target is unlikely to be reached after the bomb attacks, especially since there were several blast victims from the most important source countries, China and Malaysia.

Thailand depends heavily on tourism, which has a share of 9 per cent in GDP,  according to the World Travel and Tourism Council. Now, however, tourism could drop 10 per cent in the short term, Adithep Vanabriksha, Bangkok-based chief investment officer at Aberdeen Asset Management Co, said.

BMI Research said the blast would add to the country’s economic woes, especially since the economy was still recovering from last year’s political turmoil. The hotel and restaurant sectors could see particular setbacks “undermining government efforts to bolster the ailing economy”.

Bangkok_bomb attack5_Arno Maierbrugger
The reopened shrine. The statue was quickly repaired © Arno Maierbrugger

 

Bangkok_bomb attack6_Arno Maierbrugger
Security cameras at the Erawan shrine that caught the suspect with the yellow T-shirt and backpack © Arno Maierbrugger

 

Bangkok_bomb attack8_Arno Maierbrugger
Steel fence at the Erawan shrine deformed by the huge explosion © Arno Maierbrugger

 

Coffins
Coffins waiting for blast victims at Chulalongkorn hospital

 

Bangkok_bomb attack2_Arno Maierbrugger
People paying their respect for the blast victims at the reopened Erawan shrine © Arno Maierbrugger

 

Bangkok_bomb attack3_Arno Maierbrugger
Rest in Place, aka Rest in Peace. Flowers and garlands at the Erawan shrine © Arno Maierbrugger

 

Bangkok_bomb attack4_Arno Maierbrugger
Window damaged by the bomb blast at a shopping mall some 50 meters away © Arno Maierbrugger

 

Bangkok_bomb attack9_Arno Maierbrugger
The reopened shrine site with the damaged Grand Hyatt hotel in the background © Arno Maierbrugger

 

Bangkok_bomb attack8_Arno Maierbrugger
The reopened Ratchaprasong junction at the Erawan shrine. The white lines on the tarmac show where some blast victims and shattered motorbikes were found © Arno Maierbrugger

 

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Erawan shrine in Bangkok reopened on August 19 for worshipers and mourners © Arno Maierbrugger

Thailand’s tourism industry, just as it was on the way to recovery from last year’s coup and the subsequent imposition of martial law countrywide, has been dealt a heavy blow by the fatal bombing in Downtown Bangkok on August 17.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Bangkok_bomb attack1_Arno Maierbrugger
The Erawan shrine in Bangkok reopened on August 19 for worshipers and mourners © Arno Maierbrugger

Thailand’s tourism industry, just as it was on the way to recovery from last year’s coup and the subsequent imposition of martial law countrywide, has been dealt a heavy blow by the fatal bombing in Downtown Bangkok on August 17.

While there are still tourists around, many of them now have a nervous look in their eyes – and many of the normally well patronised restaurants and bars in the Sukhumvit area were almost empty in the days after the blast – more so, as the discovery of a suspicious object has lead to a closedown two exits of Nana BTS station on August 19. The item, however, fortunately turned out to be just a dummy bomb.

Thai authorities set up extra security around Bangkok, and the Royal Thai Police urged tourists to exercise caution when out and about. Tourism groups mobilised to provide interpreters and change travel arrangements.

More than 20 countries have issued travel alerts, including the US, Australia, China and Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Canada, Germany, Austria, New Zealand, Russia and the UK.

Hong Kong’s security bureau urged citizens to adjust travel plans and avoid non-essential trips such as leisure travel to Bangkok, which represented a “significant threat.” This “red alert” is Hong Kong’s second strongest tier of travel advisory in its three-tier system.

China told citizens to remain alert when traveling to Thailand after four Chinese tourists were killed in Monday’s bombing.

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade notified citizens to “exercise a high degree of caution” in Thailand, steering clear of demonstrations or political rallies and avoiding southern provinces entirely. “The security situation remains volatile,” the department said.

The US Embassy in Bangkok urged travelers to maintain a high level of vigilance and monitor news.

Thai Airways said that 20 per cent of travelers changed their flight plans for Thailand after the bomb explosion, according to President Charamporn Jotikasthira, who added that he hopes the situation would “soon return to normal.”

But it is very clear that the bombings will hurt rebuilding efforts in the tourism sector after the 2014 coup.

“The explosion that struck a major tourism hot spot in the heart of Bangkok on August 17 could undermine the recovery of the tourism industry, deepening the country’s economic woes,” a report by BMI Research said.

The blast also fell in the high season when tourist spots in the city are usually extremely busy.

Thailand originally forecast 28.5 to 29 million foreign tourists to visit the country this year, according to Minister of Tourism and Sports Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, up from 24.7 million in 2014. The total number of visitors until July 2015 stood at 17.5 million and the year-end target is unlikely to be reached after the bomb attacks, especially since there were several blast victims from the most important source countries, China and Malaysia.

Thailand depends heavily on tourism, which has a share of 9 per cent in GDP,  according to the World Travel and Tourism Council. Now, however, tourism could drop 10 per cent in the short term, Adithep Vanabriksha, Bangkok-based chief investment officer at Aberdeen Asset Management Co, said.

BMI Research said the blast would add to the country’s economic woes, especially since the economy was still recovering from last year’s political turmoil. The hotel and restaurant sectors could see particular setbacks “undermining government efforts to bolster the ailing economy”.

Bangkok_bomb attack5_Arno Maierbrugger
The reopened shrine. The statue was quickly repaired © Arno Maierbrugger

 

Bangkok_bomb attack6_Arno Maierbrugger
Security cameras at the Erawan shrine that caught the suspect with the yellow T-shirt and backpack © Arno Maierbrugger

 

Bangkok_bomb attack8_Arno Maierbrugger
Steel fence at the Erawan shrine deformed by the huge explosion © Arno Maierbrugger

 

Coffins
Coffins waiting for blast victims at Chulalongkorn hospital

 

Bangkok_bomb attack2_Arno Maierbrugger
People paying their respect for the blast victims at the reopened Erawan shrine © Arno Maierbrugger

 

Bangkok_bomb attack3_Arno Maierbrugger
Rest in Place, aka Rest in Peace. Flowers and garlands at the Erawan shrine © Arno Maierbrugger

 

Bangkok_bomb attack4_Arno Maierbrugger
Window damaged by the bomb blast at a shopping mall some 50 meters away © Arno Maierbrugger

 

Bangkok_bomb attack9_Arno Maierbrugger
The reopened shrine site with the damaged Grand Hyatt hotel in the background © Arno Maierbrugger

 

Bangkok_bomb attack8_Arno Maierbrugger
The reopened Ratchaprasong junction at the Erawan shrine. The white lines on the tarmac show where some blast victims and shattered motorbikes were found © Arno Maierbrugger

 

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