With powdery beaches, stunning temple ruins, friendly locals and some of the most delicious (and spicy) food in the world, Thailand lures tourists and keeps them coming back. Thirty million people visited the tropical destination in 2015, and officials announced in early 2016 those numbers would climb to 32 million this year.
That forecast looks pretty ambitious these days.
At least 11 bombs were detonated in five provinces over a 24 hour period in early August. The bombs killed four and injured hundreds in mainly southern tourist destinations frequented by locals and foreigners.
This is the kind of news that can devastate a tourist economy achat de viagra prix. And since it’s not the first time, by a long shot, that the country has been rocked by violence, we could be at a tipping point.
Canada — and numerous other nations — has an ongoing Canadian Travel Advisory that recommends Canadians avoid all travel to Narathiwat, Pattini, Songkhla and Yala provinces.
These are the provinces that cluster at the very south of the country on the border with Malaysia. This has long been one of the more dangerous parts of the country — a region where few mainstream travellers go. The so-called South Thailand insurgency has been going on for decades, with frequent bombings, arsons and drive-by shootings.
As well, it’s pretty dangerous along the Myanmar border and most countries recommend their nationals steer clear.
The August bombings struck more common tourist spots. And in 2015, a shrine in Bangkok frequented by foreign tourists was hit by a bomb that killed 20 people and injured 125.
Up until now, Thailand’s been able to cling to its brand identity as a safe and friendly tourist destination. It is a place where the locals will chat with you, you can buy noodles late at night at the market and stroll around. And the beaches are so downright glorious much can be forgiven.
But can the good times last? If Thailand keeps hitting the news like this, risk-averse travellers like families are going to start spinning their globes and looking for hotel rooms elsewhere.
Currently, tourism in Thailand hovers in value around 10 per cent of GDP. Travellers bolster the economy, but politics could get in the way.
Backpackers and thrill seekers will always thumb past travel advisories. Some will glam onto the country’s recent claim that it’s a Pokémon Go hotspot. But other travellers, such as those with young children, may begin to pass this Southeast Asian nation by if safety endures as a concern.
For a nation with internal problems, adding an economic one to the mix via the loss of tourist dollars, that won’t help things at all.