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Thailand coup: What does it mean for tourists?

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Nationwide curfew now in place for tourists and Thais

Thailand’s army chief, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, announced yesterday that the martial law imposed on Tuesday had become a military coup. What does this mean for tourists?

A nationwide curfew is now in place, which means tourists and Thais must not be in the street between 22.00 and 05.00. One exception is tourists flying in or out of the country between these hours, during which they must travel only between airport and hotels.

The political situation remains volatile. The country’s red-shirt movement, who claim to represent the majority of the population, are against the coup. The military is traditionally allied to the royalist yellow-shirt movement. Commentators say a major clash between the two sides is now more likely following the coup.

However, others point to that fact that military coups are not uncommon in Thailand. Twelve coups have taken place since the 1930s and there have been many other coup attempts. Asia’s financial markets have barely reacted to events in Thailand.

Tourism represents 10% of the Thai economy. In 2013, 26.7 million tourists visited the country, exceeding all targets. When the previous coup took place, in September 2006, the predictions for the economy were dire. But the Land of Smiles always seems to bounce back from its political crises.

In February and March, Bangkok reported the lowest hotel occupancy figures since August 2010. The concern now is how long the present conflict will last.

BBC / FTN

[pictured: Military coup, Thailand, 2006; photo by Roger jg]

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