Thailand’s tourism industry has so far been spared from the nation’s worst floods in more than half a century, and may help support the economy after the disaster devastated manufacturing hubs and agricultural land.
Phuket, Krabi, Pattaya and Koh Samui, Thailand’s biggest tourist draw cards, escaped the deluge that swamped central and northern provinces, including the ancient city of Ayutthaya.
“Most of the areas affected are not tourism areas, so while it’s affecting our farmers and many of our industrial estates, the effect on tourism is minimal,” said William Heinecke, chief executive officer of Minor International Pcl, the nation’s biggest hotel operator, in an interview yesterday.
Thailand’s tourism indusry has recovered from multiple blows in recent years. In 2004, more than 8,000 people died when the Indian Ocean tsunami devastated Thai beach resorts, including Phuket and Kao Lak. In 2008, Bangkok’s international airport was shut down for two weeks by anti-government demonstrations, and protests erupted in the capital again last year, culminating in an army crackdown that killed more than 90 people in the city’s most popular shopping district.
Many of Bangkok’s top attractions, including the Chatuchak weekend market and tourist areas around Sukhumvit Road, Silom and Khao San Road are unaffected by flooding, and ferries are still operating on the Chao Phraya River, according to the government’s website. Luxury hotels along the river, including the Shangri-la, are preparing sandbags and water pumps to protect against any inundation.