The UN World Tourism Organisation and the World Tourism and Travel Council, representing both the public and private sectors in the tourism and travel industry gathered with Thailand Minister of Tourism and Sports, Mrs Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul to reaffirm their solidarity towards the Kingdom following the deadly bomb attack over a week ago in the commercial heart of Bangkok.
‘We want to stress our solidarity with Thailand, as terrorism is a global threat by attacking the core values of our societies, of our economies and our ways of life. Thailand has an old tradition of hospitality which gave it the title of ‘Land of Smiles’. This is the Kingdom’s strength and previous experiences of turbulence in the country have shown that Thailand is very resilient”, said Carlos Vogeler, UNWTO Director-Executive Secretary of Member Relations.
”Clearly, there will be a short-term impact following the recent tragedy. They have been some cancellations from China, Korea, Japan, Malaysia and Russia mostly but if we further look ahead over the next six months, they are no signs of massive cancellations. We hope that the situation will stabilise and return to normal very quickly. Thailand remains a safe and secure destination where tourists are at ease as they know that both the government and people look for them”, added David Scowsill, President and CEO of the WTTC.
‘Our strength is to have a very diversified source of visitors. While we right now see cancellations in markets such as China and Japan,- both extremely sensitive to safety issues-, other inbound markets such as Europe or North America continue to come and have not been at all affected”, highlighted Thailand Minister of Tourism Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul.
According to the latest data communicated by the Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Sports and Tourism, Areepong Boocha-oom, tourist arrivals climbed from August 1 to 23 by 31.68% over 2014 to reach 2.1 million arrivals. “However, we have seen a decline of 7% in tourist arrivals during the week following the bomb. We expect to see some fluctuation over the next few weeks but the trend remains favourable”, he indicated.
What will be done next? Both the Minister of Tourism and Police Col. Winthai Suvaree, Spokesman of the National Council for Peace and Order – the military institution put in place following May 2014 military coup and mostly looking at internal security in the Kingdom- have stressed that safety and security will more than ever continue to be assured and that visitors can rely on government’s institutions as well as the private sector for their well-being.
‘We used our own funds to take care of the victims if they were not covered by insurance. Police forces and security have been beefed up while we now look at adopting new measures to provide even more safety to our population and visitors”, said Mrs. Wattanavrangkul. Bangkok and the country’s largest touristic places have seen an increase in patrols. According to the police, Bangkok alone has a security force of 4,000 men, composed of 1,600 soldiers and 2,400 policemen.
“We also have one of the densest network of CCTV all across the largest cities, supported by the private sector and the government. In fact, in the case of the Rachaprasong bomb, they immediately helped to identify the potential perpetrator”, said Areepong Boocha-oom. “We will further boost safety through technology and it is already good that Thailand is already well equipped with CCTV and electronic gates at major public places”, he further added.
More investments will have however to be made to facilitate people’s flows – airports for example will have to invest more in x-ray and screening equipment to avoid long queues at security- while technology will help not to turn tourist areas into fortresses. “Our security must be visible without being intimidating not to deter travellers to come. This is a delicate balance that we will achieve”, concluded the Permanent Secretary.