Saturday, 12 November 2011

Floods hurt mainland tourism in Thailand


Floods hurt mainland tourism in Thailand

By Michelle Baran
Thailand’s tourism industry is trying to get back to normal, after severe flooding in the country resulted in a slump in travelers and a U.S. State Department travel alert.

“The number of visitors to Bangkok has certainly dropped,” according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand. But the tourism authority is getting the word out that Thailand is "open for business."

From Nov. 1 to 9, the number of arrivals at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok’s international airport, was 224,000, a decrease of 25.5% from the same period last year, according to the tourism authority.

Phuket might have been a beneficiary, as the Thai island destination welcomed 40,500 arrivals from Nov. 1-6, a 40% increase.

On Oct. 27, the State Department issued a travel alert for Thailand due to the floods. The tourism authority reported that the flooding has mainly impacted the provinces along the Chao Phraya River, including parts of Bangkok and Ayutthaya.

“Unfortunately people see images of flooding on their televisions and assume it is all throughout the destination, but that is not the case,” said Srisuda Wanapinyosak, director of the tourism authority's New York office. “Even in Bangkok itself, visitors will find that the heart of the city, where the majority of tourists are accommodated, is dry.”

The Bangkok government is "working hard to manage the flow of water to try to prevent it from entering the central business district of inner Bangkok," the tourism authority said.

Patrick Evans, marketing communications coordinator at STA Travel, a travel agency specializing in student travel, said that the company hasn’t had any cancellations to date related to the flooding. “All of our tour operators are operating as normal,” said Evans.

Last week, Andrea Ross of Journeys Within, a Cambodia-based tour operator that specializes in travel throughout Southeast Asia, said that the company had guests in Bangkok that were continuing to tour the city, though they were not able to take any river excursions or visit the flooded weekend market.

“We also have guests throughout the rest of the region, and they are all experiencing great November weather,” added Ross.