Thailand tourist boss dismisses “fear-mongering” media reports

Bangkok Airport Photo: SyntaxStudio

Writing in an open letter in The Nation , William E Heinecke, Chairman and CEO of Minor International Plc, said: “Although the ongoing demonstrations are limited to certain parts of Bangkok, the rest of the city – and the country – is safe to visit, but the travel warnings and restrictions issued by some foreign governments do not reflect this fact.

“Tourists have never been a target in the protests and to this end all airports in Thailand remain fully operational and hotels and tourist attractions across the Kingdom continue to welcome guests as usual.”

His comments follow deadly attacks in the city of Bangkok, as anti-government rallies have attempted to shut down the city.Two people died in an explosion this weekend, while the BBC reports that the pro-government “red-shirt” movement  have held a “mass gathering” in north-eastern Thailand to decide who to fight back against the campaign.

According to the IBTimes , the turbulence in the Thai capital could severely damage the country’s tourism sector, with the Tourism Authority Total forecasting a potential loss of $2.7 billion over the first two quarters of 2014. The number of overseas tourists could drop by as many as 900,000. Indeed, some hotels have reported occupancy rates of only 30 per cent in the first two months of th year, amid travel alerts from the UK’s Foreign Office and other countries.

“The people of Thailand are extremely welcoming of tourists and I am certain that visitors are in far more danger of being harmed in any major European or American city than they are here in Bangkok,” wrote Heinecke.

“I would also ask that you and the Ministry of Tourism and Sports join with me in lobbying the media to honour journalistic ethics and provide a fair and factual overview of the political challenges that we face. Sensationalist headlines and reports are not giving a balanced view of the protests that we face in Bangkok. Such reporting serves only to further fuel the fire of fear-mongering. Bangkok is open for business and visitors are warmly welcomed across the capital and the country.”