In what is supposed to be Thailand’s peak tourist season, the long tail boats along the Chao Phraya river, in the heart of Bangkok, are mostly empty these days. Tour operators have never seen it so quiet in October, Al Jazeera’s Aela Callan reports.

Athiraj, a tour operator in Bangkok, said: “The number of tourists has decreased at least 50 per cent. Normally this time of year is the start of the high season and a lot of tourists are coming. But now it feels like we are still in the low season.”

Around the Grand Palace, one of the Thai capital’s main tourist attractions, the city’s famous tuk-tuks sit idle, as do many street vendors who are barely scraping together a living selling souvenirs.

“This year is the worst. It’s actually the worst of the worst,” Jintana, a tour-boat operator, said.

“Normally I have so many tourists. The number is so enormous I do not have time to eat.”

The downturn is expected to cost Thailand $4bn.

Most blame the ongoing political upheaval in the country which has left the $14bn-a-year tourist industry feeling the heat.

The political troubles are highly visible.

Red-shirted supporters of Thaksin Shinawatra, the former prime minister, regularly hold rallies outside popular tourist attractions, catching many visitors unawares.

It was the closure of Bangkok airport this time last year by Thaksins yellow-shirted opponents that has lingered in the minds of many foreign visitors.

httpv:/www.youtube.com/watch?v=fictY7CSxIY

In most tourist areas of Thailand, locals are hanging their hopes on a surge of last-minute bookings to lift them out of the slump.

Bangkok’s largest hotel remains optimistic, though, and will continue with planned renovations in a vote of confidence for Thai tourism.

wat_poRoel Constantino, of the Shangri La Bangkok, told Al Jazeera: “If it’s the higher end of the market, because they have a choice and because they have the resources, the perception of political stability will probably come into play more than the economies of it.”

Clearly, it appears one thing above all else will bring tourists back to the Land of Smiles: stablity.

About the author

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Sign Up for Our Newsletter

Get notified of our weekly selection of news

You May Also Like

The Travel Blog Exchange (TBEX) Asia 2022 takes place in Phuket

Open to content creators (producers of blogs, videos, podcasts, and traditional media) and DMOs, tour operators, hoteliers, OTAs, travel brands, and PR and marketing suppliers, TBEX Asia 2022 is being held at the Angsana Laguna Phuket

Bangkok Makes CNN’s Top 10 List for Best Places to Celebrate New Year

Thailand was also named the top destination for North American and European tourists in a recent BBC News poll, which reported that 57.4% of respondents would choose to visit Thailand over other Southeast Asian nations.

TAT promotes fully reopened and ‘Always Warm’ Thailand

Strategic marketing campaigns will be launched to bring more visitors from existing markets like the UK and Europe, as well as new markets like Saudi Arabia and large secondary cities in the USA through partnerships with airlines.