An anti-government protester waves a Thai national flag during a march through streets in Bangkok, Thailand, Monday, May 19, 2014. Thailand’s political crisis deepened last week when the Constitutional Court removed Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra for nepotism along with nine Cabinet members in a case that many viewed as politically motivated. Protesters say Yingluck’s removal is not enough, though. She was simply replaced by Niwattumrong, who was a deputy premier from the ruling party.(AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
Thai military has taken control of the country to prevent the conflict from escalating. The preemptive move came after talks between representatives of opposing sides and top officials failed to reach a common ground. A nationwide curfew has been announced from 22.00 – 05.00 hours effective Thursday, and martial law is to remain in effect until further notice, the army announced. Businesses and public services are adjusting their operating hours to comply with the curfew.
Photo: courtesy CNN
All airports in Thailand remain open, and air passengers with arrival and departure flights scheduled during the curfew can travel to and from the airports at any time as usual. However, tourists with arrival and departure flights during the curfew are advised to prepare all travel documents when travelling to and from the airports.
Travellers arriving at Thailand during the curfew should experience no difficulty finding taxis to their destination. However, in another preemptive move, a CIP lounge has been introduce to offer a comfortable wait for those who desire to make their commute after the end of the curfew at 5 am. Travellers may also contact the Suvarabhumi Airport call centre on 1722.
Thai office workers walk past armed soldiers standing guard outside the Shinawatra Tower Two in Bangkok, Thailand, 20 May 2014. Thai army Chief Prayuth Chan-ocha early on 20 May 2014, declared martial law giving the military full control to prevent further protest-related violence in the country. The statement was issued about 3 am on 20 May (2000 GMT), according to local media reports. Prayuth has the authority to declare martial law without the consent of the government, which has had caretaker status since 09 December 2013. Thailand has been wracked by six months of non-stop protests seeking to topple the government. At least 25 people have died in political-related violence and more than 700 injured. EPA/NARONG SANGNAK /LANDOV
Tourism officials claim that all offices and businesses are functioning as usual and all the tourist attractions are welcoming visitors. Life in Bangkok is running smoothly and everything is on track. Set haphan Buddhani, director, Tourism Authority of Thailand says “This is a preemptive move aimed at preventing any damage to property or any escalation of the protest. Tourists can continue to enjoy the kingdom’s renowned hospitality and exciting attractions. However, we advise travellers to avoid rally locations and adhere to the curfew. I underline that those with flights to catch may go ahead as usual, but must keep documents handy as they journey to the airport.”
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) also says that it is closely monitoring the situation, and will be providing more updates as soon as there are further developments. Tourists looking for information on-the-go may contact the TAT Call Centre on 1672, the Tourist Police Call Centre on 1155 and the Traffic Police Call Centre on 1197 for information and assistance.
Thai soldiers patrol on foot on a road near the rally site for pro-government demonstrators on the outskirts of Bangkok, Thailand Thursday, May 22, 2014. The opponents in Thailand’s polarizing political crisis prepared Thursday for a second round of talks mediated by the country’s army chief, who says he invoked martial law and then summoned the bitter rivals to try to end six months of turmoil. (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)
Whereas, CNN reports that for international tourists looking to visit Thailand for a seasonal winter getaway, it’s hard to be blase about the situation. Street protests, grenade attacks, martial law and military coups just aren’t part of their daily vernacular and the recent months of political conflict have taken their toll on Thailand’s tourism industry.
Though some Bangkok tourists CNN spoke with say it’s easy to avoid the protests by keeping abreast of the news, in recent months many opted to follow the advice of the dozens of countries that issued warnings to its citizens about the situation in the Thai capital and avoid it altogether. Instead, they’re heading for the country’s other popular destinations like Chiang Mai, Koh Samui or Phuket.