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Safe to travel

April 4, 2011

Tourism in 11 southern Thai provinces has been severely hit by recent heavy floods with damage to infrastructure on Koh Samui alone estimated at more than one billion baht, said the Tourism Association of Koh Samui.

Samui was hardest-hit by storms and flooding but a lot of the damaged infrastructure is expected to be repaired and be ready for tourists before the Songkran festival.

The other major tourist destinations affected by the floods are Phuket, Krabi, Trang and Phangnga.

Bannasat Ruangjan, the association’s president, said hotel room reservations for the upcoming Songkran Festival were now about 50% of all available rooms, down from 70% before the floods covered the southern island.

Transport routes on Koh Samui, its airport and ports have resumed operating. Some roads were damaged by the flooding but tourists and local residents have been able to use some detours.

“We never saw such heavy storms and flooding as this before,” said Mr Bannasat. “It also came at an unusual time of year. Chaweng and Lamai districts were the most heavily damaged. In these areas, the floods covered the first floors of many hotels.”

Both local and international travellers have absorbed news about the damages in the South through TV, newspapers and websites. Therefore, they are very concerned and shifted their plans to travel to other destinations instead.

“We just want to tell them that Samui is safe for travel right now,” he said. “Although we hoteliers have faced many negative factors, we have to encourage ourselves and business must go on.”

The association has asked 430 hotels on Samui to evaluate their damages and report their estimates in the next few days, Mr Bannasat said.

Most of the damages are to lobbies and public areas on ground floors, kitchens and swimming pools.

In light of last week’s floods, authorities in Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, the Czech Republic and New Zealand issued travel warnings to their citizens about the 11 flood-hit provinces.

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