Thai tourism Industry may have lost more than one billion US dollars

The tourism sector has lost more than 35 billion baht (more than 1 billion US dollars) due to the intensifying mass anti-government rally and the bloody confrontations on Saturday between red-shirt protesters and security forces.

The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI), which made the tourism claim, also predicted the violence could take one per cent from the 2010 gross domestic product.

“Tourism and service businesses, restaurants, souvenir shops and shopping malls near the rally sites [at Ratchaprasong intersection and Phan Fa bridge] are all affected and could lose over 35 billion baht in total,” FTI deputy chairman Thanit Sorat said on Sunday.

He said the GDP could drop a per cent from the government’s forecast. The government predicted that the country’s economy would expand by four to five per cent this year.

“More people from the middle class and businessmen would likely side with the red-shirt protesters after there were many casualties following the violent crowd dispersal yesterday,” Mr Thanit said.

He said the loss of lives, regardless of any political colours, would cause difficulties for the government in dealing with the demonstrators.

He said a House dissolution proposal did not seem to be an appropriate solution at first but it could now be the answer.

“This is the time for the junior coalition parties to make a decision whether they will leave or remain with the Democrat-led government because everyone in the country is looking at them right now,” he said.

He said the political violence had obliterated the country’s investment atmosphere and the tourism industry would take a long time to recover again.

China’s Dragon Air has cancelled all flights to Thailand until the political situation returns to normal, he added.

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