Now that the two-month-long official protest in downtown Bangkok has come to a bloody end, it’s time to take a step back and remember the rest of Thailand. Thai tourism has taken a serious hit recently, something the Red Shirts probably hadn’t counted on. So I thought Thailand could use a little “shout out.”
There is some irony in the fact that the recent conflict and unrest is what drew so much attention and international coverage to Thailand. After all, this is a country renowned for its warm, gentle welcome to discerning travelers. At present, however, the nation is experiencing a steep decline in tourism.
With communication moving at light-speed, the public is still being inundated with images of violence and unrest from Bangkok. In fact, there are reports now that while the protests have ended, the crisis is far from over, as angry crowds have taken to rioting in parts of the city as well as in northern towns.
Many people are wondering if it is safe at all to visit Bangkok. The official answer from the media and various travel advisories? Probably not right now.
But if you listen to the people who are actually there, the people who call Thailand their home or visit frequently, you might be surprised. So far – even during the most volatile times – not all of Bangkok was dangerous. In fact, the violence was contained to a relatively small portion of the city. But that area was on high alert, erecting roadblocks, checkpoints and shutdowns of public transportation.
The truth? Many parts of Bangkok remained peaceful throughout the recent unrest. And most of the provinces covered by potentially “overzealous” travel advisories were barely affected – if at all.
Arrivals at the airport dropped by at least one-third, and hotel occupancy rates plummeted. But as one travel writer and photographer said, “When you get out from those areas of political turmoil, things seem to move as smoothly as ever. We still live peacefully, we still love good food, and the sea is still beautiful.”
Six Senses Hideaway Yao Noi, Phuket, Thailand
On that note, perhaps we should all say a collective prayer for Thailand… especially those of us who have had the pleasure of visiting its fantastic destinations and gazing at its awe-inspiring vistas. So here’s to Thailand, and here’s to the beautiful images Kiwi Collection receives from that part of the world.
The Racha, Phuket, Thailand
Tongsai Bay, Surat Thani, Thailand
Trisara, Phuket, Thailand