BANGKOK – At least 11 governments on Tuesday updated advisories for their citizens traveling to or living in Thailand after the Royal Thai Army declared martial law.
The U.S. government asked its citizens to “stay alert, exercise caution and monitor media coverage,” and to “avoid areas where there are protest events, large gatherings, or security operations.”
The Australian government urged Australians in Thailand to “exercise a high degree of caution while traveling throughout Thailand due to the possibility of civil unrest.”
Pornthip Hirunkate, vice president of industry trade group the Tourism Council of Thailand, said the updated advisories were expected after the army declared martial law, which would hurt tourism.
The Tourism Council held a meeting Tuesday and forecast that martial law would likely cause tourist arrivals in the second quarter of this year to decline 9.5% on year, said Ms. Pornthip. A decline was anticipated anyway because of the prolonged unrest, but martial law will make it worse, she added.
The Thai tourism industry has been undermined by nearly seven months of anti-government protests that have left at least 28 people dead. Fifty governments have issued travel advisories warning their citizens about Thailand’s political turmoil since November.
The Bank of Thailand reported Monday that due to political unrest, income from tourism during the first quarter of this year fell 4% from the same period a year earlier. The Tourism Council said tourist arrivals declined 6% on-year in the first quarter due to political unrest. Tourism accounts for around 10% of Thailand’s GDP.
The tourism industry had hoped business would return more or less to normal when, less than two months ago, the Thai government lifted emergency rule for Bangkok and nearby areas. That emergency rule had been blamed for scaring away tourists during the high travel season, which ended in March.
Thailand’s flag-carrier Thai Airways and leading low-cost carrier AirAsia issued statements Tuesday saying they are operating as usual.
Other countries that updated advisories included the U.K., which said it was “looking into the implications” of the invocation of martial law.
Meanwhile, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said during a news conference that Japan is watching the situation in Thailand with concern, while strongly encouraging all parties there to exercise restraint and refrain from violence.