More than the military coup in itself, the current strict curfew hours from 22.00 to 5.00 – will have a deterrent and if it remains a possible devastating effect on Thailand’s tourists, not only in Bangkok but also in Pattaya, Phuket and other known tourist hot spots in the Land of Smiles.
After all Thailand is very famous for the nightlife, and if the official Thai tourism promotion campaigns admits it or not- a very large number of visitors travel to Thailand just for that.
One of our eTN Associates who is an expat and had resided in Bangkok for decades as an international known journalists did not want to be named, but had this to say:
It is not the first military coup happening in Thailand.
Generally such an event always goes bloodless but this is more the curfew being imposed which is likely to impact tourism, if it is not rapidly lifted.
So far the situation is normal during the day. Offices and shops are open and local shoppers as well as visitors and tourists still look for bargains. Public transport is busy as usual.
The army is rather discreet. They are some checkpoints along the main tollroads. “We see however a drop in shopping mall frequentation, as people feel worried. We just open a new deluxe food outlet and we feel the pinch of the coup”, says an executive of a fancy shop under request of anonymity.
It is getting worse at night. The city is now empty and dead. The famed entertainment areas such as Khao San road, Silom or the upper class area of Thong Lor are out of business at night. It’s a sad feeling.
Most outlets close between 8 pm and 9 pm to let their employees go back home rapidly.
Only allowed out for now are travelers going to and from airports as well as night workers and specific professions such as doctors or security staff.
While bars and restaurants are suffering a real blow, other tourism businesses try to adapt. At Siam Niramit, a popular show about Thai culture, performances and dinner starts now early at around 18.00 and the dinner and show is scheduled for 19:30. Before 21.00, it is all finished!
Hotels are also adapting. “For our hotel guests, Ww organize this Friday night movie event at our swimming pool together with some other entertainment”, says Katja Henke, General Manager for the Peninsula Hotel in Bangkok.
The curfew which is in place from 22.00 to 5.00 is also accompanied by restricted access to television programs.
Only hotels and some businesses are still allowed to air international programs while Cable TV programs had been turned off.
Despite rumors, internet is still working normally, offering an alternative for entertainment.
How long could it last?
“We do not have any information yet about a lifting or relaxation of the imposed curfew”, indicates the Tourism Authority of Thailand. “ I do not expect that the curfew should last for too long as a lot of business are at stake and depend a lot from tourism or evening and night activities.
The curfew has been imposed to be sure that protesters will not create further disruption and return to their homes upcountry. The sooner the situation normalizes and the country comes at peace, the quicker the curfew will be lifted”, says an executive from the deluxe food shop.
Was restoring peace in fact the main drive behind the military coup?