Tourism experts are divided over whether Monday’s fatal bomb blast in the heart of Bangkok will impact tourism to Phuket.
The explosion, which occurred at one of Bangkok’s most popular tourist attractions, the Erawan Shrine at the city’s Ratchaprasong Intersection, killed at least 22 people and injured around 123 others, the majority of whom were foreign tourists.
Phuket Tourist Association president Satirapong Na Takuatung said the situation “obviously affects tourism”, pointing out that English, American and French Embassies had already sent out warnings to their citizens in Thailand within three hours of the explosion.
“Within one hour, international television channels reported the attack worldwide,” he told the Phuket Gazette.
Although Mr Satirapong said it was possible tourists who were planning to come to Thailand would change their plans, he added that as many flights were pre-booked, that “we'll have to look in a few months to see if the number of bookings for Phuket turn out lower than last year”.
According to the Gazette, Satirapong said that he had yet to learn of any immediate mass cancellations to the island.
Weerawit Krueasombut, president of the Entertainment Business Association of Patong, Phuket’s most popular destination, said that as there were a number of foreigners who died in the bombing, “it will definitely have an impact on Phuket tourism”.
“Last night, all restaurants, bars and clubs were closed at 2am for security reasons. Tourists may hesitate to come back to Thailand again because of this.”
Meanwhile, PTA vice president Sarayuth Mallam seemed to be in disagreement with his boss, saying he thought Phuket’s tourism industry would not suffer as the island had never been a target of terror attacks, The Phuket News reported.
Mr Sarayuth said tourists might even flock to Phuket in an attempt to avoid the capital, as they did during the political unrest in 2010.
“Now tourists have many more options in coming to Phuket. We have more direct flights from overseas than ever before, and so they can come here without travelling through Bangkok. They might take advantage of this,” he said.
Despite the reassurances, security has been stepped up on the hugely popular island province.
“There are more checkpoints keeping an eye on ground transportation, not only in Phuket but also at checkpoints on the roads from Bangkok to Phuket and at Phuket International Airport,” Sarayuth said.
Would you be concerned about travelling to Bangkok, or indeed anywhere else in Thailand in the near future?
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