Thailand is one of the most sought-after places in Asia for vacations – especially romantic getaways and honeymoons due to the secluded, picture-perfect beaches and exotic culture. However, recent political and social unrest – especially in Thailand’s largest city, Bangkok – is causing quite a stir. In fact, the U.S. Department of State officially issued a travel warning on May 16 due to continual issues in the country.
Growing tensions in Thailand
Social demonstrations have been held in the country since the constitutional court removed the caretaker prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra as well as nine cabinet members. In the past year, there have been significant political divisions within the country and political demonstrations have been taking place in Thailand since November 2013. As a result, the demonstrations, many of them in Bangkok, have resulted in continual acts of violence. To quell the uprising, Thailand’s military declared martial law across the nation, with soldiers stationed at street corners and even tanks perusing the streets.
This is not the first time that Thailand has experienced overthrows in their government, according to CNN. In fact, the previous military intervention happened in 2006 and there have been 18 takeovers since Thailand was first established as a constitutional monarchy in 1932. Despite the political drama surrounding Thailand for many decades, the country still remains one of the most popular travel destinations in Asia. However, this year, Thailand’s high demand will likely take a nosedive.
Thailand tourism market affected
CNN pointed out that international bookings for the country have been reduced by 17 percent between November 2013 and March 2014. Thailand’s low season is currently starting, so many local businesses – especially hotels, beaches and markets – are hoping that Thailand will resolve its political differences before their high season begins. The World Travel & Tourism Council noted that tourism and travel generated $73.8 billion during 2013, which is around 20 percent of the country’s GDP. Needless to say, the stakes are high with this recent coup d’etat.
“Many in Thailand are just waiting, watching and hoping that political stability returns to the Kingdom sooner than later,” Mason Florence, executive director of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office, explained to CNN.
Florence went on to say to the source that many travelers who were initially looking to vacation in Thailand have set their sights on other up-and-coming but similar destinations in the area, including Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos.