S'poreans going ahead with Thailand travel plans

A Thai soldier with a sniffer dog walks near Erawan Shrine on August 12.
A Thai soldier with a sniffer dog walks near Erawan Shrine on August 12. PHOTO: AFP

Mr Julian Chia, 28, is heading to Bangkok at the end of this month. The tattoo artist and his girlfriend are among Singaporeans who have not cancelled or postponed trips to Thailand despite the string of bombings last week.

He said: "We have already booked the trip and it'll be quite wasteful to cancel. We'll try to stay safe, register with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and hope that nothing happens."

Popular tourist spots in Thailand, such as the seaside resort town of Hua Hin and Phuket island, were among those hit by explosions on Thursday night and Friday morning. Four Thai people were killed and more than 30 others, including foreigners, wounded. No one has claimed responsibility for what is being seen as coordinated attacks, but police have ruled out international terrorism.

"Luckily, the long weekend is over, so most of our customers are back in Singapore," said Ms Alicia Seah, Dynasty Travel's director of marketing communications. Her agency now has fewer than 10 Singaporeans in Phuket, Chiangmai and Bangkok, compared with 130 over the National Day weekend.

The 200 Singaporeans booked with Dynasty Travel for trips to Thailand at the end of this month have also not called to postpone or cancel.

Thai Tourism Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul remains confident that the attacks would not affect the tourism industry, which accounts for at least 10 per cent of the nation's economy.

"The confidence in tourism will return. Thailand solves problems very quickly and always bounces back," the French news agency, Agence France-Presse, quoted her as saying yesterday.

Last August's bombing at a Bangkok shrine - killing 20 people, mostly tourists - hardly made a dent on the industry as Thailand welcomed a record 30 million travellers in 2015.

Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Friday it had contacted most of the registered Singaporeans in the affected areas and verified that they are safe. "Singaporeans in Thailand are advised to exercise vigilance and monitor the local news and instructions of the Thai authorities," said the ministry.

Some 20 foreign embassies in Bangkok have issued similar advisories to their citizens, The Nation daily reported.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 14, 2016, with the headline 'S'poreans going ahead with Thailand travel plans'. Print Edition | Subscribe