For a country heavily dependent on tourism political unrest can be potentially devastating. Several countries have already advised their citizens not to travel to Thailand and local authorities are anxious to limit the damage.
The country’s image was already tarnished by last year’s shutdown of Bangkok’s airports by protestors. But not everyone is concerned now. One tourist said: “I’m staying to the end of my holiday. I’m not cutting it short. I think it’s coming to an end now. I think the government has wound it up really. I think it’s all going to come back to normal.” And while gunfire can be heard in one part of Bangkok, in another tourists join locals celebrating an annual festival with water pistols. “Yeah I’m a little bit concerned but these things happen. It’s not bad. It’s not bad for us tourists,” said one. It is among the busiest times of the year for tourism, and those involved in the industry hope the unrest will not exacerbate the effects of the global economic downturn.