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Tourism operators jittery over potential unrest if ‘wrong’ government takes office

PHOTO: Facebook/พรรคก้าวไกล - Move Forward Party

Thai tourism operators have expressed concern that street protests could erupt if the new government consists of parties the majority of the country didn’t vote for. The chairman of the Khao San Road Traders’ Association says he’s worried about potential political unrest.

Sa-nga Ruengwattanakul points out that things are already quiet around Khao San Road at the moment, due to it being low season. In addition, many Thai tourists have travelled to their home provinces for the 6-day holiday. Then there is the ongoing absence of large Chinese tour groups, which Sa-nga puts down to the overly time-consuming visa process (Chinese travellers have to either apply for a visa before they travel or when they get off the plane in Thailand, and before they go to the immigration counters).

He says if a new government is formed that consists of parties “the people do not want” (military-linked conservative parties like Palang Pracharat and BhumJaiThai), there is a risk of street protests and escalating unrest.

“When this happens, foreign embassies issue travel advisories that can significantly affect tourists’ confidence and overall visitor numbers.”

Weerawit Kruesombat, President of the Patong Entertainment Club in Phuket, is also concerned. Speaking to The Phuket Express, he too fears that if a new government is cobbled together with parties the majority didn’t vote for in the May 14 general election, there will be protests in the streets.

He adds that if things get really bad, it could lead to airport closures, as has happened in the past, or even another coup d’état. (The last military coup in Thailand was in May 2014 when the army, under General Prayut Chan-o-cha, took control and kicked out the elected Pheu Thai government of Yingluck Shinawatra)

“I hope that the country will see a new government soon. If parties in the government deviate too much from the current 8-party coalition, I fear that many people may not accept it. In the worst-case scenario, it could lead to a coup d’état, which would have a great detrimental impact on the economy, something we definitely do not want to happen.”

SOURCE: The Phuket Express

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