THAILAND’S tourism industry is expected to bounce back from last week’s bomb attacks in the popular tourist areas of Phuket and Hua Hin, despite predictions that the country could lose up to 200,000 foreign visitors this year.
Several foreign embassies in Thailand issued travel advisories to their citizens in the wake of the attacks that claimed four lives and injured dozens more, including 10 foreign tourists.
The U.S. embassy advised its citizens to avoid the affected areas, and to be aware of their surroundings. The Australian and Japanese embassies echoed similar sentiments following the bombings.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) predicted that the country may lose 100,000 to 200,000 foreign visitors following the blasts, which could result in losses up to US$290 million. About 30 million foreign travelers visited Thailand last year.
However, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has expressed optimism about Thailand’s tourism industry recovering soon.
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WTTC’s president and chief executive officer David Scowsill said, “Having spoken with Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, [Thailand’s] Minister of Tourism and Sport, security steps are being taken by the government.
“We are confident that the situation will stabilize and return to normal very quickly, as it has done after challenges in the past.
“Despite the bomb attack at the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok in August 2015, Thailand’s visitors grew by 20 percent last year to 30 million travelers and the money they spent grew by 25 percent over the same period. The country will continue to be a key tourism destination for travelers.”
Several upcoming events are expected to go ahead as planned in Thailand, such as the World Tourism Day celebrations on September 27.
The United Nations World Tourism Organization secretary-general Taleb Rifai said, “More than ever we need to work together to make a great success out of the celebrations of World Tourism Day; this will be the best expression of support and union against these hideous acts.”
The annual Hua Hin Jazz Festival will also continue as planned.
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Tourist police commander Pol Maj-Gen Surachet Hakparn said that an additional 800 tourist police will be deployed in tourist-heavy areas on top of the current 900 already on duty.
Meanwhile, Kobkarn added that Pokémon GO will be used to restore tourists’ confidence, and the ministry will work with game developers to add Pokéstops and Gyms in various safe tourist destinations.
The original version of this article appeared on Travel Wire Asia