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Friday, June 6, 2014

Thailand: "Everything back to normal" says TAT director

by Ian Mcintosh - Travel Agent Update - on location in Bangkok
"Everything back to normal" : Mrs Jamnong Junnapiya
"Everything is back to normal in Thailand and we are going to work three times harder to make sure tourists get that message," says Mrs Jamnong Junnapiya, executive director South East Asia, Tourism Authority of Thailand.

Speaking in Bangkok at the Thailand Tourism Mart, she said business from Australia was only slightly down - with a small number of travellers deferring travel rather than cancelling following the coup.

We are also facing a strong Australian dollar and competition from the American market, she said.

New trends appealing to the Australian market include Thai Boxing schools and cooking schools plus the old favourites of shopping, golf, medical and romance. The numbers arriving for weddings or even just a romantic anniversary continues to grow.

"As well the Thai people are so welcoming and friendly," she added.

To encourage tourists back, a record 15000 establishments in 7 cities will participate in the Amazing Grand Sale 2014 between June 15 and August 15, making it the biggest ever.

A special website has been developed to assist shoppers at www.thailandshoppingparadise.com

They will enjoy up to 80% discounts at department stores, shops, spas and hotels. There will also be lucky draw prizes offering a trip for two to the kingdom.

Also announced was a contest for both amateur and professional photographers, writers and videographers. The TAT newsroom Contest 2014 will offer cash awards of more than 200,000 baht for winning entries that showcase Thai tourist destinations. More details visit www.tatnews.org

It was also announced today that two of Thailand's best known properties have been voted highly by TripAdvisor. Under the banner of "Asia's top 25 hotels with exceptional service" the properties are The Palace Luxury BotiqueVillas on Ko Tao, Surat Thani and the Oriental Kwai Resort in Kanchanaburi. The latter is a small resort located in a little village on the bank of the River Kwai.

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Protesters brought Suvarnabhumi Airport to a standstill with this protest in 2008.

 Life is mostly back to normal in Bangkok - if chaos is normal. The problems being experienced by MAS and Thailand were underscored by my flight from Kuala Lumpur. The plane was all but empty and the usual lengthy passport lines at the airport had vanished. Great for me - but this country relies on tourism. Around 25 million people, Australia's entire population, pay a visit to the tiny kingdom each year so you can imagine how many people the industry employs. Already the junta has lifted the curfew in Pattaya, Koh Samui and Phuket to boost tourism numbers. Opposition to the junta has been very passive - symbolised by a three fingered salute borrowed from the film The Hunger Games. Of slight concern is a story in The Bangkok Post today saying that future protest rallies will be held "in areas with many foreign tourists." As well, the paper reported messages circulating on Facebook indicated protesters might hold a rally at Suvarnabhumi Airport on Saturday. Hopefully not - that is the day I return.

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One of the little intrigues following the coup in Thailand is the whereabouts of red shirt leader Jakrapob Penkair. While everything seems calm following the military takeover, it seems Penkair has revealed plans to establish a government in exile. He fled the country in 2009 after political riots against the Government. There seems little point in the plan however. The junta has made it clear that elections will be held in or around 12 months time.

 
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