Two years ago, I took a sabbatical from TTG to travel around the world. With its close proximity to Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, Bangkok provided the perfect base for my travels around Asia, and I found myself returning time and again to the Thai capital.
It wasn’t just its location that made Bangkok such an ideal base - it was the warm reception of the Thai people that made me fall in love with this crazy, loud, bustling, colourful metropolis. Other comments from travellers in response to the deadly bomb blast outside the Erawan Hindu shrine this week echoed these sentiments.
That the atrocity was carried out at a site where visitors of different religions and nationalities come together for peaceful reflection, and to gain good luck, seems particularly wicked.
Prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha insisted those responsible had deliberately targeted tourists, in a bid to “destroy the country’s” economy. And as with most countries, there can be no denying the importance of tourism to the Thai economy. Last year it generated $72.2 billion - or 19.3% - of the country’s GDP, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.
As TTG went to press, one British national was understood to have died in the tragedy. However, our own Foreign Office was urging only to take extra caution in Bangkok. With four Chinese and Hong Kong tourists among the casualties though, and Hong Kong already advising travellers to cancel non-essential trips to Bangkok, it seems likely the city’s vital Asian market will be affected.
The industry seems hopeful the impact on UK visitors will be minimal. But as always, it is likely to be the national press that dictates the British public’s response to the tragedy. As the chair of Aito Agents warns on page 5, scaremongering headlines will likely lead to Brits wanting to avoid the Thai capital. It will be up to the industry, and in particular, agents to once again ensure a balanced view is relayed.
news editor, TTG