Saturday October 30, 2004

Southern tourism affected by rising violence

SONGKHLA, Oct 30 (TNA) - Local hoteliers in southern Thailand said on Friday that they have started to feel the pinch of a rising violence in the region, with Malaysian tourists continuing to cancel their bookings.
Concerned over the impact, the Songkhla Hotel Association organized a meeting among local hotel operators to find a solution for the ongoing unrest.
About 20-30 percent of room bookings for the upcoming Muslim holidays in mid-November after the fasting month of Ramadan have already been canceled, as Malaysia warned its citizens over the security problem in Thailand's deep South, said Mr. Somchart Pimthanaphunporn, the President of Songkhla Hotel Association.
He said the situation was worsened by a bomb blast last night at a bar in Sungai Kolok District of Narathiwat which borders Malaysia which killed some Malaysian tourists.
He said local hoteliers blamed the rising violence in Narathiwat and Yala provinces on the army crackdown on Tak Bai Muslim protesters which led to 85 deaths, almost all from suffocation in overly crowded in army trucks after their arrest.
''Malaysian tourists fear for their safety and cancel their trip to Thailand. At the meeting, hoteliers have discussed ways to revive the business by planning attractive offers to Malaysian tourists and explain to them that Songkhla is safe and far from where troubled areas.
Local TNA reporter said the provincial police chief in Songkhla has ordered police to be fully alert and ready to counter violence after more attacks have taken place since the Monday's army crackdown on demonstrators in the southernmost Narathiwat province.
The reporter said police officers have been told to take safety precautions for themselves and for their families, both at work and while at home.(TNA)

Parent site: "Focus on Malaysia"