Ever-resilient Thai tourism may bounce back after floods

Fri Nov 18, 2011 10:31am EST
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By Orathai Sriring

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand's worst floods in 50 years have hit tourism at the start of the high season, but the country has recovered quickly in the recent past from all sorts of scourges and some tour operators are hopeful a recovery might start next month.

Floodwater in some areas of the capital, Bangkok, and other provinces has started to recede, and the inner city and upmarket shopping districts have remained dry, but some in the tourist sector are still concerned.

"Trips from Japan have all been canceled since last month and there are no new bookings now. They're a bit afraid of the situation but I think they will come back next month," said Euamthip Panjai of All the Best Travel.

"But tourists from other countries are still coming and many of them go to Pattaya and Phuket," she said, referring to two seaside destinations south of Bangkok that are flood-free.

Central Plaza Hotel, a big locally owned group, said it was seeing some impact from the floods, but it was a mixed picture, with poor business in some areas offset by better business elsewhere.

"Occupancy rates at our hotels in Bangkok have dropped to about 60 percent from 70 percent normally. But those in Pattaya and Hua Hin are higher than usual at 80-90 percent ... Some people may have escaped from the floods," said CPN Senior Vice President Ronnachit Mahattanapreut.

He expected the impact to be over after this quarter.

Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn, president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA), had a similar view.   Continued...

<p>A man pulls a makeshift raft carrying his friends and with a Thai national flag attached as they make their way through the newly flooded neighborhood in Bangkok's suburbs November 11, 2011. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj</p>