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Anti-government protesters want to totally block Bangkok from January 13

A planned total shut down of Bangkok from January 13 is likely to discourage tourists to come and damage the image of the Kingdom in the midst of the tourist high season.

BANGKOK – Thailand Caretaker Minister of Transport Chadchart Sittipunt is concerned about a possible blockade of all roads leading to Bangkok as evocated by current anti-government protesters. The movement is ignited by Suthep Thaugsuban, a former Minister of Foreign Affairs coming from the rank of the opposition and also a dubious personality whose name is already tainted in many corruption scandals.

The man who placed himself at the forefront of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) plans a mass rally to shut down the whole of Bangkok to force current Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to resign and postpone an election now planned for February 2. Mr Thaugsuban’s New Year “gift” to Bangkok inhabitants –and consequently tourists- is a total blockade from January 13, 2014. In a speech on January 1st at Democracy Monument in Bangkok historical city centre, the anti-government protest leader announced that Bangkok shut down could last between “5 and 20 days”.

Caretaker Transport Minister Chadchart Sittipunt disagreed of Mr. Thaugsuban act of taking Bangkok residents as hostages. In a message on his facebook account, the caretaking Minister will coordinate with various ministries and State Agencies ways to counter the siege of the capital.

It is still too early to assess if the planned blockade of Bangkok will really happen or not. Especially as Thai military commandment start to indicate that they do not rule out a possible military coup after observing over the last two months “benevolent neutrality” over the situation. Whatever future developments, there is at least a consequent that Bangkok will have to bear: likely massive trip cancellations by many foreign travellers to the capital city as no one wants to see its holidays spoilt by protesters. Many travellers probably still remember the seizure of Bangkok airports by protesters back to 2010. Mr Thaugsuban already advised people to stay in Provinces if they do not want to suffer in Bangkok. An advice which shows how deep he seems disconnected of the real world.

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Luc Citrinot a French national is a freelance journalist and consultant in tourism and air transport with over 20 years experience. Based in Paris and Bangkok, he works for various travel and air transport trade publications in Europe and Asia.

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