Monday, December 2, 2013

Thailand: China Designates Travel Warning as "Red," Second Highest Warning, Tours Cancelled

According to The South China Morning Post, China's Security Bureau raised the travel threat level in Bangkok on Monday afternoon to "red," the second highest warning.

Travelers should consider changing their existing plans or to avoid all non-essential travel to Bangkok, the Security Bureau urged. “Those already there should monitor the situation, attend to personal safety and avoid protests and large gatherings of people,” a government spokesman added.

It is the latest blow to Bangkok’s beleaguered tourist industry, as Hong Kong residents shun the Thai capital as it is no longer safe for tourists. Last year, Hong Kong  tourists made more than 604,000 trips to Thailand.

Emboldened by the vows of the opposition leader to topple Yingluck by Wednesday (December 4), demonstrators threw rocks at police and tore away sections of barbed wire and concrete barriers outside the Prime Minister’s heavily fortified office.

A change in the travel threat for Bangkok has prompted a flurry of large travel agents and tour operators to amend their cancellation policies.

The executive director of China's Travel Industry Council Joseph Tung Yao-chung announced the cancellation of most travel tours to Bangkok beginning December 3 through December 13.

COMMENT: Some 80 tours involving roughly 1,000 people who had planned their visit to the protest-hit country will be affected.

Tung said they could either choose to visit another destination, or receive a refund minus a HK$150 administration fee to the tour operator.

Three tour groups traveling with Wing On Travel, who were planning to visit both Pattaya and Bangkok on a five-day itinerary, will remain in a Pattaya hotel, a popular beach resort on Thailand’s east coast, as it remains unaffected from political unrest.

Suzanna Lau Mei-sze from http://www.travelexpert.com said with 500 travelers on the agency’s books in Bangkok, they were currently trying to contact all their customers in the capital to offer their assistance.