“There are concerns among our main tourist groups such as the Chinese, Malaysians, Singaporeans and those from Hong Kong, Mr Charoen explained, adding that this group of tourists constitute nearly 40 per cent of the country’s tourism revenues.
Last week, the horrifying scene of carnage in front of the famous Erawan Shrine prompted Hong Kong to raise its outbound travel advisory for the Thai capital to a “red alert” level, the island’s second highest tier of warning.
This means that those who travel to the Thai capital cannot purchase travel insurance, which is compulsory by Hong Kong’s law, said Mr Charoen.
THAILAND’S “WORST EVER ATTACK”
The Erawan Shrine bombing is the “worst ever attack” on Thailand, according to Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-ocha.
Of the 20 casualties, 12 were foreign visitors from China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. Six others were Thai nationals while the remaining two have yet to be identified.
Although the bomb attack has dampened the tourism industry, the likes of Narin Ruengwongsa remain optimistic the impact would last for only a short period of time.
“Most of my clients are not worried about the attack and trust that the Thai government know what they are doing,” said the president of the Thai-Chinese Tourist Guide Club. “Tourists understand this kind of incident can happen anywhere in the world.”
Following the deadly blast, security has been stepped up around the capital, particularly in areas frequented by tourists such as Asiatique the Riverfront, Pratunam or Watergate, and the Rattanakosin area, with more security officials deployed and additional security checkpoints set up.
On television, the National Council for Peace and Order makes a daily appearance, informing the nation of the latest development on Thailand’s security situation and its on-going investigation into the bomb attack. The announcement is broadcast in Thai, English and Mandarin, sometimes with Russian subtitles.
“SECURITY CHECKPOINTS ARE A BIT TOO VISIBLE”
For entrepreneurs at popular tourist attractions such as Khaosan Road, however, the heavy presence of security officials and checkpoints could make visitors unnecessarily worried.
“I think it’s not practical. I think they should place undercover policemen in the area. It’ll be more discrete. Security checkpoints are a bit too visible and it will make the situation seem more alarming for tourists,” vice president of the Khaosan Road Business Association Prasit Jiaranaiskul said.
Still, Khaosan Road continues to welcome foreign visitors, although not as many as before.
“Bomb is terrible and I didn’t expect that but it could have happened anywhere. I feel free and safe in Bangkok. Everyone is so kind. People here are very open like in Italy, more or less. So I feel safe,” said an Italian visitor to the popular street.
“Just keep your wits about you and try to enjoy as much as possible,” a Chinese tourist added.