With the prolonged political conflict causing a huge drop in foreign visitor arrivals, about one thousand operators of businesses in Thailand’s tourism industry plan to gather in the Thai capital Friday to demand that the government and the anti-government Red Shirt movement find solutions to end the political crisis.

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One thousand tourism businesses urge government, Red Shirts, to end conflict

With the prolonged political conflict causing a huge drop in foreign visitor arrivals, about one thousand operators of businesses in Thailand’s tourism industry plan to gather in the Thai capital Friday to demand that the government and the anti-government Red Shirt movement find solutions to end the political crisis.

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Tourism businesses are increasingly worried after 4 weeks of political unrest in Thailand's capital

Charoen Wangananont, president of the Thai Travel Agents Association (TTAA), who is also spokesman for the Federation of Thai Tourism Associations (FETTA), said that Federation executives and presidents of 25 tourism-related associations will meet at Lumpini Park in downtown Bangkok on Friday at 4pm, with about 1,000 tourism operators joining the gathering.
The FETTA spokesman said that the meeting is aimed at expressing the stance of the tourism business operators over the current political crisis which has severely hit the industry resulting in the sharp drop of foreign tourists, and to urge the government and the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) to find a way out of the conflict and end the protest as soon as possible.

Economists and analysts forecast gloomier times, predicting Thailand’s GDP to contract by 0-3 percent while the country descends into a deflationary spiral. Moody’s Economy.com says Thailand could be the Asian economy that suffers the most from the global financial crisis. Plus the spectre of further political unrest remains on the horizon. However, there are some signs that Thailand can ride out the economic firestorm. Government debt-to-GDP remains below average regionally speaking, the financial sector learnt from the 1997 meltdown and remains relatively well capitalised and liquid, and Board of Investment privileges are some of the best in Southeast Asia.

One thousand tourism businesses urge government, Red Shirts, to end conflict

Externally, the trade balance in January 2009 recorded a 1,688 million US dollar surplus. Export value contracted for the third consecutive month while import fell even more rapidly. Export value dropped 25.3 percent (yoy) to 10,382 million US dollars. This was due mainly to contraction across the board except for labour-intensive industries which still expanded from gold export. Import value contracted 36.5 percent (yoy) across the board to 8,694 million US dollars. When accounting for the net services, income, and transfers surplus of 601 million US dollars from lower investment income transfer compared to the previous month, the current account balance registered a 2,289 million US dollar surplus.

For the year 2008, the Thai economy decelerated from the previous year, particularly in the last quarter where global economic downturn and internal political unrest adversely affected manufacturing production and tourism. Nonetheless, farm income in Thailand still expanded well from higher major crop production and price compared to the previous year. On the demand side, private consumption and investment declined notably in the last quarter, despite falling inflation during the second half of the year in line with lower oil prices. Both export and import expanded satisfactorily during the first three quarters. However, during the last quarter, export contracted following trading partners’ economic slowdown while import decelerated markedly in line with export and domestic demand conditions.

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