Saturday, November 12, 2011

Update: Tourism in Thailand Slows in Flood Zones, But Flourish Elsewhere

Even though central Bangkok is still generally dry from the heavy rains and massive flooding that has besieged Thailand since July, tourism to the Land of Smiles has slowed to a trickle after dealing with the worst flooding in 50 years. As a result, tourists in Bangkok are dwindling as flood-waters creep into previously dry Bangkok proper.

Although tourism accounts for 6% of the Thai economy and employs roughly 2 million workers, the country has been plagued by one crisis after another: The SARS epidemic, a tsunami, a military coup, the occupation by anti-government protesters of the capital’s two airports and multiple rounds of deadly street fighting. The most recent violence, in April and May last year, ended with nearly 100 people killed and several landmark Bangkok buildings set ablaze, but Thailand had a record 16 million international visitors in 2010, showing how quickly tourism can bounce back.

COMMENT: One thing that can be said about the Thais is that they are historically resilient. This year's flooding has claimed roughly 550 lives.

Although tourism in the Thai capital has slowed, Thais are well-known for adapting to their environment. Residents, merchants and multinational companies alike are well-skilled at preparing for emergencies and performing efficiently during a multitude of different crises.
Tourists, too, are adapting to the flooding by avoiding the capital and flocking to points south and north of Chiang Mai, where flooding has not been a problem. Pattaya and Phuket, in particular, are attracting tourists in large numbers. International tourist arrivals at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok’s international gateway, were up 6.7% in October over last year, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). Arrivals at Phuket’s airport were up 28.5% for the same period.

Most international airlines are still operating normally to Bangkok, while domestic airlines have been adding flights due to strong demand from people heading to other parts of the country not affected by the flooding.

Below is a link of Thailand's many airports which may help in circumventing flood zones:

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