Singaporeans not cancelling plans for Bangkok holidays despite martial law

The decision by Thailand's military to impose martial law in the country yesterday has yet to result in Singaporeans cancelling their holidays to Bangkok.

Instead, they are taking a wait-and-see attitude, travellers and travel agencies said.

Dental surgery assistant Li Jiamin, is going ahead with her five-day trip to Bangkok next week. She had friends who went to Bangkok when protests were occurring there and were fine, said the 28-year-old.

"Bangkok always has this kind of problems. If anything bad happens, I'll just stay in the hotel."

But as a precaution, she has bought travel insurance and is tracking the developments in the Thai capital on the news.

Graduate student Irwin Ho, who has a trip to Bangkok at the end of next month, is also not postponing it for now.

"I'll see what happens. Unless there's prevalent unrest and the streets are unsafe, I won't cancel the trip," said the 25-year-old.

A Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman said it is following closely the latest developments in Thailand "with concern".

"We hope that all parties involved will exercise restraint and work towards restoring peace and order in accordance with Thailand's constitutional process and laws," the spokesman said, adding that Thailand's stability is crucial to the region.

Travel agencies said demand for travel to Bangkok slowed by as much as 50 per cent since political unrest started in October last year, but it picked up earlier this year. It is too soon to tell how martial law will impact this, they said.

Companies sending staff to Bangkok for meetings, incentive trips, conferences, and exhibitions seem to not be taking any chances, however.

At Dynasty Travel, a sizeable number of its 180 business travellers due to go to Bangkok over the next two months are diverting their trips to Phuket, Bali and Malaysia instead, said its director of marketing communications Alicia Seah.

"Leisure travellers are not cancelling because they are aware that the protesters are not targeting tourists. But companies don't want to take the risk," she added.

Chan Brothers Travel, ASA Travel, Hong Thai Travel and Dynasty have not seen any cancellations from leisure travellers. "People are still travelling to Bangkok. Even our staff are going," said ASA Travel's manager of marketing and communications Iris Kok.

A Chan Brothers' spokesman added that the agency is monitoring the situation "very closely". "Customer safety is our utmost priority," he said.

Undergraduate Charmaine Ang, 21, who was in Bangkok yesterday for the final day of a four-day holiday, said the situation felt "normal" except for the presence of several soldiers along the roads. "I haven't seen any riots or protests on the streets during my stay here."

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