Thu, Nov 28, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Thai protests ‘not affecting tourism’

CONSIDER THE COLOR:Travelers to Thailand have been warned to avoid certain areas due to the protests and not to wear yellow or red shirts, to ensure their safety

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

A hot spring in the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido is pictured in an undated file photograph.

Photo courtesy of the Lion Travel Service Co.

Taiwanese travel agents said they are monitoring if the protests in Thailand are likely to turn violent, adding that it does not appear to have affected the tourism market at present.

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra announced earlier this week that the nation would start enforcing the Internal Security Act in Samut Prakarn Province after anti-government protesters occupied the foreign ministry compound.

The act authorizes Thai security forces to impose curfews in Bangkok and surrounding areas, block roads and stop vehicles, restrict the movements of protesters, ban large gatherings and detain people without trial.

Gloria General Travel Service vice general manager Sui Kuei-chen (隨桂珍) said the Tourism Bureau is also monitoring the protests. While the protests may cause some travelers to think twice about traveling to Thailand, Sui said she has yet to see any tour group cancelations.

Sui said that the abduction of a Taiwanese tourist in Sabah, Malaysia, had affected sales of tours to east Malaysia, but she emphasized said that not too many Taiwanese visit the east of the country and said the impact on the overall Malaysian tourism market was minimal.

At press time last night, the Ministry of Foreign Affars’ travel alert for Thailand remained “gray,” which means travelers are warned to avoid certain areas due to an increase in crimes or protests.

The ministry also reminded tourists to avoid wearing yellow or red shirts for their own safety.

Statistics from the Tourism Bureau showed that approximately 500 people visit Thailand each day. The bureau estimated that 2,500 Taiwanese tourists are currently in Thailand, with a majority of them staying in Phuket Province and Pattaya.

In other developments, the Travel Quality Assurance Association yesterday announced its reasonable group tour charges for different travel destinations between January and March next year.

The association’s report showed that group tours to the Southeast Asian countries during the Lunar New Year holiday would increase by between NT$3,000 and NT$5,000 compared with the same period this year.

Group tours to Japan are expected to increase by between NT$1,000 and NT$5,000 compared with this year.

Despite the devaluation of the Japanese yen, the association said the price of flight tickets remains high because the Lunar New Year holiday next year has only six days, which leaves little flexibility for setting the date of departure.

During the Lunar New Year holiday, a five-day tour to Hokkaido, a popular winter resort in Japan, is forecast to cost NT$80,000, the highest price in the past few years, the association said.

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