27 November 2008

Thai political unrest affects tourism

Calls for the resignation of Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat of Thailand escalated to a point that it had crippled a major source of the country’s income: tourism. Protesters converged in the Thai airport and effectively took over despite police resistance. The numbers are too much to handle for the airport security and support from outside military assistance were too late. The protesters were already at the airport and they would never leave unless the Prime Minister resigns.

Because of the takeover, different countries worldwide issued a travel warning for Thailand. The international Airport in Thailand is currently unstable as the military and protesters continuously clash. The reason for the airport’s takeover is primarily a way to talk directly to the Prime Minister who they were expecting to arrive from a summit. But it was easily diverted.

The current Prime Minister is thought to be an exact replacement of the deposed leader, Thaksin Shinawatra. Mr. Shinawatra was removed from power in 2006 after a coup. Accusation of massive corruption has forced Mr. Shinawatra out of power. However, protesters still think that the former leader still has influence and the current leader might just be a puppet.

The impact was immediately felt as hundreds of flights that go to different countries in different continents were stalled. Tourists from different parts of Thailand literally spent nights in the airport.

Negotiations between the government and protesters still haven’t commenced as the protesters demand resignation and nothing else.

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