Govt attempts to calm city’s nerves
Tourism Authority of Thailand in its latest situation report, issued yesterday afternoon, states travel to all parts of the nation, except Bangkok, has not been affected by red shirt rallies.
Travel to Phuket and Samui continues with little or no impact on bookings, mainly due to direct air access. Hotels in the two resort destinations expect a healthy business turnover during the annual Songkran festival next week.
However, the Thai capital continues to be held hostage by red-shirt protesters who have threatened to fan out today, Friday 9 April, to disrupt traffic at 10 intersections or landmarks in the city.
Government agencies are attempting to calm the nerves of Bangkok residents who have become increasingly worried by a spate of bombings, an intrusion into parliament, earlier in the week and the unwillingness of the red shirt leaders to negotiate a settlement.
The government is offering protesters free transport to protesters so they can returm to their homes for the Songkran holiday hoping it will help defuse the situation, although warrents have been issued for the arrest of 14 protest leaders. The Prime Minister has repeatedly said security forces would act reasonably with minimum force to ensure the city could return to normal over the next few days.
Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also reiterated that the measures taken under the State of Emergency declared late Wednesday, 7 April, do not affect thelife of people or their activities, nor those of foreigners residing, or visiting Thailand.
Red-shirt protests are focused on sites at Ratchadamnoen Avenue (Sapan Panfah/Panfah bridge) Makkawan Rangsan Bridge near Government House and Ratchaprasong intersection, the main tourist district in downtown Bangkok.
About eight five-star hotels in the Ratchaprasong tourist district have stopped taking bookings.
Travellers are advised to use the BTS Skytrain and MRT to avoid major roads in the tourist districts closed to traffic.
Expressways are congested as drivers attempt to avoid the areas occupied by protesters resulting in transfers to the main airport taking much longer, possibly 90 minutes instead of the 35 to 40 minutes.
Both Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports are open and protesters have pledged they will not rally near airports.
TAT states that sightseeing tours continue as normal. More time is needed to travel between sites as roads are congested and the red shirt protesters are touring various parts of the city causing traffic jams.
River transport is operating normally to the sites in the Rattanakosin historical district: Wat Pho; the Grand Palace; and Wat Phra Kaeow (Temple of the Emerald Buddha).
The following roads in Bangkok near the Ratchaprasong rally site are closed to traffic. They include Rama I Road Outbound from Chaloem Phao intersection where Henri Dunant Road meets Rama I Road to Ratchaprasong intersection.
Rama I Road Outbound from Ratchaprasong intersection to Pratunam intersection. Ploenchit Road Inbound from Chidlom intersection to Ratchaprasong intersection.
For security reasons, the following department stores and shopping malls around Ratchaprasong intersection and Siam Square remain closed– CentralWorld, Zen, Big C Rajdamri Superstore, Gaysorn Plaza, Amarin Plaza, Siam Centre & Siam Discovery Centre and Siam Paragon.
HOTLINES & CALL CENTRE NUMBERS
Ministry of Foreign Affairs 24-Hour Operation Centre. Foreign visitor enquires: (+66) 02 575 1023; (+66) 02 981 7225; (+66) 88 022 1540; (+66) 88 022 1541.
Ministry of Tourism and Sports Tourist Assistance Bureau 1414
TAT Call Centre 1672
Tourist Police 1155
General Insurance Association 1356
Thai Airways International (THAI) (+66) 02 356 1111
Suvarnabhumi Airport (+66) 02 132 1888