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No drop seen in planned Thailand visits

Updated: 2015-08-19 07:45
By Su Zhou (China Daily)

China's major tour operators are reporting no major cancellations of planned group trips to Thailand after explosions rattled Bangkok on Monday and Tuesday.

Six Chinese citizens - four from the Chinese mainland and two from Hong Kong - were killed in the explosion on Monday at Erawan Shrine.

Ctrip, one leading online service provider based in Shanghai, said no clients had asked to cancel their planned trips as of noon on Tuesday. Groups that had planned to go to Thailand on Tuesday left as scheduled.

More than 7,300 people now in Thailand, including those in tour groups and individual Ctrip travelers, were confirmed safe and will return to China on schedule, Ctrip added.

Other travel agencies, including the China Youth Travel Service, China International Travel Service and Tuniu, related similar experiences.

China has been Thailand's No 1 source of overseas tourists, with 4.6 million Chinese visiting the country last year.

The bombing of Erawan Shrine, a major attraction both for Thais and visitors from across Asia, killed 20 people and injured125.

The Hong Kong government issued a red travel warning for Bangkok - the second-highest of a three-tier system, meaning that travel there should be avoided unless absolutely necessary - while the Chinese embassy in Thailand reminded Chinese travelers to raise their security awareness.

Sun Lichan from Haitao Travel said the peak season for travel to Thailand does not start until October. "Besides, the Erawan Hindu shrine has not been part of Chinese group travelers' travel plans for a long time," she said.

Sun said Chinese travelers have been spending less time in Bangkok in favor of Thailand's islands, and those Chinese who spend time in the capital want to visit only the most famous sightseeing venues, such as the Grand Palace.

"So this attack basically has no direct influence on group travelers," Sun added.

However, industry insiders all agreed the attacks would influence individual travelers' plans.

According to an ongoing China Daily online poll, more than half of the respondents said they would not travel to Thailand because of the bombing.

Andrew Stotz, CEO of Bangkok-based Stotz Investment Research, told Bloomberg News, "Thailand is vulnerable right now as economic growth and corporate earnings are weak, while tourism is not doing great."

The timing of the blast just as "we're coming into this high tourism season" means it could be particularly damaging to the tourism sector, which accounts for 8.5 percent of Thailand's GDP, he added.


(China Daily 08/19/2015 page4)

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