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PATA wants to help displaying a more truthful image of Bangkok’s political situation

With the Tourism Authority of Thailand revising down total tourist arrivals for this year and new travel advisories from 50 countries warning travellers wishing to visit the Kingdom. PATA is now assessing how to help at best Thailand to counter negative reports without hiding facts.

BANGKOK – The removal of ex Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra from power last Wednesday could not get unnoticed around the world. As demonstrations continue to go on in the streets of Bangkok to totally dismount the influence of the Shinawatra family over Thai politics, pressure continues to mount to see the party of the ex Prime Minister losing totally power. In this struggle, embassies and foreign observers fear that the situation could get out of control, despite the fact that demonstrations in the city centre run peacefully as they have mostly been in the previous months. Of course, incidents can happen such as a demonstration near to Bangkok low cost airport in Don Mueang which forced passengers to walk with their luggage over the highway to reach their plane last Friday. Such an event shows that a risk does exist – even on a minimal scale. 
We have to see how we could help Thai government to convey the message that only some parts of Bangkok are affected but that it is business as usual for the vast majority of the country. We know that recovery plans once the situation stabilized will be launched but it is important also to communicate NOW”, says new PATA Thailand Chapter President Ben Montgomery
PATA is ready to bring all its knowledge in crisis management and also discuss with Thailand’s Ministry of Sports and Tourism, the Tourism Authority of Thailand as well as the Tourism Council of Thailand about ways to show the reality of the situation.

PATA is located in Thailand and we know well the situation. By bundling our expertise with all other players of the tourism industry, we must come out with a credible and reliable message which will give a clear image to travellers”, indicates Martin Craigs, PATA CEO.

Suggestions during an informal round table at PATA headquarters on Monday looks at ways to coordinate actions with Thailand’s officials. Publishing interviews from tourism players about the situation, photos and videos of the life in Bangkok could be a way.

There is a real need to look at new ways to communicate as the situation is more volatile than before.” 

The majority of Thailand is indeed safe for travellers but we must fight a wrong perception of insecurity provided by travel advisories or some media reports. It is an urgent task”, added Ben Montgomery.
Many elements last week contributed to weaken Thailand’s image. Outside protests in Bangkok, an earthquake in Chiang Rai with further tremors as well as a bomb explosion in a hotel in Hat Yai (South) – a popular destination for nearby Malaysians and Singaporeans- have further dampen tourism prospects for this year. TAT announced last week to already revise down its forecasts for 2014. The tourism marketing agency. The agency indicated that it is unlikely that the Kingdom might reach t a target of 28.4 million foreign travellers compared to earlier estimates of 30 million travellers. 
Earlier this year, the Minister of Tourism spoke from a decline comprised between 10% and 12%. The number of Chinese travellers already declined by over 40% since the start of the year. 


Photo caption : May 12 protest Siam
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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.