Tourists welcome but be respectful, Thailand tells visitors after king’s death
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Tourists welcome but be respectful, Thailand tells visitors after king’s death

THAILAND will keep the doors to its many attractions open during the official period of mourning following the passing of its monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, but has advised tourists to be mindful of their dressing and behavior.

In an advisory posted on its website, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) said with the exception of Wat Phra Kaeo (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) and the Grand Palace, the venues of the Royal Funeral Rites, all other tourist hotspots will operate as usual.

It said it was not necessary for tourists to copy the Thai public and dress in black or white as a sign of mourning but urged them to try and wear “somber and respectful clothing” when they are out and about.

“Visitors should refrain from conducting any inappropriate or disrespectful behavior,” it added in the notice posted Friday, a day after the king’s death.

SEE ALSO: Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej dies aged 88

It also informed visitors that the Thai junta government has asked for the cooperation of entertainment venues like bars and nightclubs to “consider the opening of their business operations during this time.”

It said, however, that each individual owner is given the discretion to decide on this matter.

This could mean that Thailand’s many entertainment outlets – seen as a cash cow for the kingdom’s thriving tourism sector – may choose to keep their doors closed for a certain duration during the mourning period, which commenced Friday. The Thai government had after the king’s death announced a one-year mourning period and a 30-day moratorium on state events.

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A Thai woman holding up a picture of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej cries while waiting for a van carrying the body of the king to pay her last respects outside Grand Palace in Bangkok, Friday. Pic: AP.

Other than that, the TAT announced that most traditional and cultural events will take place as usual although the celebrations may be changed for appropriateness as a mark of respect or may be held in dedication to the memory of the late king.

Other facilities like transport, banks, hospitals and other public services will continue to operate as usual, it said.

“The related authorities have stepped up safety and security measures for all Thais and visitors to facilitate their travelling around the country,” it said, adding that those with questions can contact the authority’s domestic offices.

“TAT would like to thank all visitors for their understanding and supporting Thailand during this period of time,” it said.

The 88-year-old ailing King Bhumibol breathed his last at 3.52pm on Thursday, bidding farewell to a troubled nation that has long regarded him as a father figure and a symbol of unity.

The king’s son, the Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, was in 2002 named as heir apparent, and is expected to fill the empty throne in respect of the succession rule in the Thai Constitution soon.

SEE ALSO: Thai Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn will be monarch, says PM Prayuth

The prince, however, has requested to delay his crowning to allow him time to mourn his father’s passing.

In the interim, the military junta government says the head of the powerful Privy Council will stand in as regent.

King Bhumibol, during his years as monarch, has been regarded as a demigod in Thailand, a nation deeply polarized by years of political conflict and violence.

He anchored the Southeast Asian country through violent upheavals at home and communist revolutions next door with a blend of majesty and a common touch.

SEE ALSO: In King Bhumibol’s death, Thailand loses only constant

The once-vigorous king had withdrawn from public life over the last decade due to his ill health. He lived at the Bangkok hospital and had been notably silent about the political upheaval that has shaken Thailand in recent years.

Upon his death, the nation wore black in mourning and crowded the roads leading to the palace to join in on the procession carrying his body from the hospital.

The king’s remains were taken in a convoy late Friday evening to the grand palace, weaving through thousands of teary citizens who held up portraits of their beloved monarch.

Bhumibol’s son, Prince Vajiralongkorn, does not enjoy the same respect in Thailand as his father. He is said to have the reputation of a jet-setting playboy, having been married and divorced three times and having spent most of his life outside the kingdom in Germany.