Tourism and the economy

18 04 2010

There have been earlier comments on the economic damage done by red shirt rallying, and PPT posted earlier on this and pointed out that there had been little impact on the economy. This might have changed with reports of the state’s violent crackdown on protesters on 10 April.

In one of our earlier posts, we questioned the estimates by the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC) of huge losses. Now the Bangkok Post (18 April 2010) reports on the same university saying that if the “anti-government rally carries on to mid-May the country could lose approximately 50 billion to 70 billion baht…”.

PPT doesn’t know if they have been reported accurately, but the same spokesman claimed a higher figure back on 26 March if the red shirt rallies went on for a month, and we assume that is from 12 March to 11 April. To now claim a lower figure for a longer period that includes the deaths and injuries of 10 April either means they are making this up or they have new data and are correcting earlier errors. We suspect, though, that the researchers are concocting stories for a political purpose.

We hasten to add that PPT believes that such rallies do have significant economic impacts, but we question the reliability of this report. Why on earth don’t reporters do any research or ask questions when they are fed contradictory information? We guess that is a rhetorical question….

Tourism is one area where a significant impact might be expected.

TIME ( April 2010) has a story on this, noting that tourism accounts for 6.5% of Thailand’s gross domestic product. It says the impact of recent events on tourism are “expected to be devastating” and they quote yellow-shirted finance minister Korn Chatikavanij who “predicted that tourist arrivals will be ‘decimated’.” With “more than 40 countries have now issued travel advisories against coming to Bangkok” declining arrivals are to be expected.

At the same time, Prakit Piriyakiet, Tourism Authority of Thailand deputy governor is reported at Asiaone (18 April 2010) as saying that “[t]rips to Chiang Mai and Bangkok failed to reach expectations” but that the “number of visitors to Phuket, Hat Yai, Samui and other major destination[s] in the South had increased by about 20 per cent compared to the same period last year.” Prakit says that the “number of visitors to Bangkok dropped by 10-12 per cent from the same three days [Songkhran] last year.” Of course, last April saw the Songkhran Uprising. Prakit said that “Nan and Sukhothai were reported crowded with many domestic tourists.”

Kongkrit Hiranyakit, who is the chairman of the Tourism Council of Thailand, “said tourism business across the country during the festival had grown by 15 to 20 per cent.” But Kongkrit was pessimestic in sprouting the government’s line: “I feel the country’s political problems will not go away soon as the government has declared there are [political] terrorists in the Kingdom…”.


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13 01 2011
Divisive politics, dumb perspective | Political Prisoners in Thailand

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