Factbox: Countries warn against travel to Thailand

By Ploy Ten Kate

BANGKOK (BestGrowthStock) – Many countries have issued travel advisories for the Thai capital since Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva declared a state of emergency in April to quell unrest that has killed 27 people and wounded around 1,000.

But a reconciliation plan put forward by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, which includes a proposed November 14 election, has cooled tensions, although there has been no agreement to end the protests that have paralyzed Bangkok’s commercial heart.

Britain has lifted its warning against all but essential travel to the whole of Thailand, although it remains in place for Bangkok, but the United States, Australia and other countries were still advising against travel anywhere in the country.

Arrivals at Bangkok’s main Suvarnabhumi airport dropped by a third in April, putting a government target of 15.5 million tourists this year in doubt and dealing a blow to an industry that supports 6 percent of the economy.

According to the latest industry data, tourist arrivals to Thailand were 16,989 per day on May 5, or a 3.6 percent drop from the same period of 2009.

Following are some advisories from foreign governments:

BRITAIN – On May 5, the British government lifted its warning against all but essential travel to the whole of Thailand. Such decision “reflects a reduction in the level of political violence across the country in the last few days.”

In 2009, 841,000 British tourists came to Thailand, more than from any other European country, according to government data.

THE UNITED STATES – On April 28, the State Department advised against non-essential travel to Thailand. The travel alert will expire on July 28.

The U.S. Embassy said in a statement dated on May 4 that it urged both the protesters and the government to negotiate a final agreement that would allow political differences to be addressed through its democratic institutions, including parliament and the electoral process.

“The United States has consistently said that political differences should be resolved through peaceful dialogue, not violence in the streets,” it said.

In 2009, 627,000 Americans came to Thailand.

AUSTRALIA – The Australian government has also advised its citizens to “reconsider your need to travel to Thailand.”

“The overall level of the advice has not changed,” it said.

“There is a strong possibility of violent clashes in Bangkok and in other parts of Thailand between demonstrators and security forces. These clashes could involve the use of lethal force and could occur at any time.”

In 2009, 647,000 Australians visited Thailand.

GERMANY – The German government has issued a heightened security alert for Thailand and tour operators have canceled tours to Bangkok and some destinations in northern provinces.

Some 573,000 Germans visited Thailand in 2009.

CANADA – Canada warned on April 28 against non-essential travel to Thailand. “The security situation is very volatile with significant potential for further civil unrest, violent clashes, and attacks.”

About 170,000 Canadians came to Thailand in 2009.

NEW ZEALAND – New Zealand warned against non-essential travel to Thailand and advised citizens concerned about their safety to consider leaving the country. “There is high risk to your security in Thailand due to the uncertain political situation, civil unrest and threat from terrorism,” it said.

Some 88,000 New Zealanders visited Thailand in 2009.

JAPAN – Japan raised its security risk level for Thailand to 2 out of the maximum 4 on April 27, advising its nationals to seriously reconsider travel plans to the affected areas and take precautions if they did decide to make a trip.

Just over a million Japanese tourists came to Thailand in 2009.

CHINA – On April 26, Beijing warned its people not to visit and to “temporarily leave Bangkok if possible” if already there.

Chinese tourists canceled in droves in April after violence on April 10 that spilled into the Khao San Road area, popular with low-budget travelers. Some 778,000 people travelled to Thailand from China in 2009. Another 319,000 came from Hong Kong.

SINGAPORE – Singaporeans have been advised against non-essential travel to Bangkok since April 10. “Singaporeans who are already in Bangkok are strongly advised to remain indoors as far as possible and avoid unnecessary travel within the city, in particular to avoid the areas where demonstrations are occurring.”

SOUTH KOREA – South Korea is advising its citizens to avoid travel to Bangkok and other parts of Thailand.

TAIWAN – Taiwan is maintaining its “red” level alert on travel to the Bangkok area. Red is the highest level of alert in Taiwan’s four-tier warning system and urges nationals to refrain from traveling to the affected area.

About 350,000 Taiwanese tourists visited Thailand last year.

Stock Market Research Tools

(Sources: Embassy and government websites; Thai Ministry of Tourism and Sports; tour operators) (Editing by Alex Richardson)

Factbox: Countries warn against travel to Thailand