Thursday, 20 April 2017

THAILAND: Bangkok's Street Food Culture Or Attraction Survives Crackdown

Bangkok's street food culture will survive a crackdown on vendors, Thailand's tourism chief vowed today, assuring travellers that a city renowned for its chaotic charm was not being remodelled into a Singapore-lite.

The City Hall stunned Thais and tourists alike this week with plans to bar the capital's world-famous food stalls from all main roads to reclaim pavements for the public.

Today, the governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) pushed back against fears that Bangkok was being gentrified in the image of Singapore a city that relishes orderliness but is often characterised as tame compared to its Southeast Asian rivals.

"We will keep our uniqueness. We won't change our Yaowarat (Chinatown) into Orchard (road)," Uthasak Supasorn said, referring to a shopping district in Singapore with wide boulevards devoid of street life.

The plan is not to totally take away street food from Bangkok streets, but there are some reasons and some places that will be reorganised," he added.

Nearly two-thirds of Bangkok's 30,000 street vendors have already been removed or relocated from pavements to open up space for pedestrians, according to city officials.

Vendors will be allowed to set up shop on smaller streets while hawkers based in two top tourist hubs Chinatown and Khaosan Road will be reorganised but not barred completely.

"Bangkok has some of the best street food in the world, you cannot take it away from the people of the world," the tourist governor told reporters, adding that he was meeting with city officials to discuss how the restrictions would be enforced.

Many are hoping the crackdown will wither like many of the other clean-up campaigns launched under the ruling junta.

Tourism is a major of pillar of Thailand's economy and has boomed despite a decade of political unrest and bad press over its dangerous roads and lax safety regulations.

The kingdom welcomed a record 32 million tourists in 2016, with revenue making up nearly a fifth of an otherwise lagging economy.

Meanwhile, Tourist influx in North Indian hill town Shimla has increased after turmoil in Jammu and Kashmir. Despite temperature going above normal mark, tourists come here due to the peaceful atmosphere.

Tour business operators have been witnessing flood of bookings and inquires after the tourists opting Shimla, instead of Kashmir.

Tourism business operator KC Thakur said tension in Kashmir has diverted the tourist influx in Himachal Pradesh especially in Shimla. He said that hotels have almost been full to the capacity and rooms have been booked in advance.

Sagar Puri a tourist from Amritsar said, ?Condition in Srinagar is not favorable for tourism as compared to Himachal which is now identified as a safe place for tourism.?

Tourists claim to choose Shimla as their tourist destiny due to unfavorable situation prevailing in Kashmir.

Major chunk of tourists might have flown to Kashmir had the situation been normal, but instead they chose Shimla because of its peaceful atmosphere.

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