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Thailand tourist attractions now safe from floods

November 18, 2011

Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is wooing back travellers, with the statement that 97 per cent of tourist attractions nationwide are safe from floods.

In a statement, it said some 40 of Thailand’s 1,200 tourist attractions that appeal to international visitors, or around 3 per cent of Thailand’s key tourist attractions, have been affected by the floods. The World Heritage Site in Ayutthaya, around 50 km north of Bangkok, is also dry now.

“At the TAT, our hearts go out to all the Thai people affected by the flood,” said TAT Governor Suraphon Svetasreni. “All Thais are pulling together to help each other and the country has received generous support from many countries, especially the people of China. The flood waters are receding in the central provinces, all the way down to Ayutthaya, and the cleanup has begun. The remaining floodwaters in the affected parts of Bangkok and the surrounding provinces are expected to be clear within the next four to six weeks. Meanwhile, tourist destinations in the rest of Thailand are ready to welcome visitors from China.”

According to the agency, other tourist attractions and destinations outside of Thailand’s central provinces are experiencing normal conditions and continue welcoming visitors. This includes Pattaya, Phuket, Rayong and Chiang Mai, which are favourite destinations for tourists from China. Almost all other tourist destinations in Thailand including Sukhothai, Chiang Rai, Surat Thani and Ko Samui, are also not affected by the flooding in the Central Region. Even in the Central Region, places such as Hua Hin and ChaAm are outside the area affected by the flood.

Suvarnabhumi Airport, the main gateway to Thailand for international flights, is not affected by the flood and all flights continue operating as per usual. The airport, which has considerable water management and flood prevention measures, serves over 800 flights per day. There were more than 958,000 international visitor arrivals at Suvarnabhumi Airport during October 2011, an increase of 6.7 per cent over the previous year. Connecting flights from Suvarnabhumi Airport to other airports to other destinations within Thailand are operating normally.

Don Mueang Airport, which has not handled international flights for more than five years, is the only airport in Thailand closed due to flooding. Two small domestic airlines based at Don Mueang are currently operating their daily flights out of Suvarnabhumi Airport.

In the Bangkok Metropolitan Area, the central part of the city is not flooded and government officials are confident their flood prevention efforts will keep it dry except for some places close to the Chao Phraya River during high tides. Flooding in the Bangkok area is mainly in outlying residential and industrial zones in the city’s east and west, the city’s northern districts, and the western side of the Chao Phraya River.

The statement was issued mainly to woo back travellers from China. During the first nine months of 2011, international tourist arrivals to Thailand reached 14.4 million. Over 1.3 million of these arrivals were from China, a 9.06 per cent increase over the same period last year. Some 42 per cent were repeat visitors and 43 per cent travelled in group tours.

Travellers from China can also fly directly to destinations such as Phuket and Koh Samui. In October 2011, the number of tourist arrivals at Phuket was up almost 28 per cent compared to the same period last year. Phuket International Airport had 40,500 arrivals during 16 November, a 40 per cent increase compared to the same period last year.

As the flooding has mainly affected Thailand’s agricultural and industrial sectors, tourism will play an important role in sustaining the country’s economy, providing employment and contributing to Thailand’s recovery. A significant part of the recovery process will be increased tourist arrivals and sustaining employment in this important part of the Thai economy. More than 2,000,000 Thai people work in Thailand’s tourism sector.

“The TAT hopes that more travellers from China will visit Thailand, especially those who planned to come during the high season. They will enjoy all the country has to offer while making an important contribution to the Thai economy, especially in terms of supporting jobs in the tourism sector that will generate income for the Thai people,” said Suraphon.

TAT is bringing 100 members of the Chinese media to see first hand that very few of Thailand’s tourist attractions were affected by the flood. More than 300 media from other countries worldwide will also visit Thailand on similar trips over the next weeks.

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