Thai hoteliers said they welcomed a return of American tourists after a government warning that travelers in Asia were a “prime target” for terrorists.
According to The Bangkok Post, Thailand’s prime minister declared there would be no more curfews or metal detectors at tourist sites.
Thai hoteliers say their tourism industry is “heartbroken” but thriving. They hope the diplomatic tensions between the two countries won’t affect bookings for US tourists.
Thai Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam described the current diplomatic situation between the two countries as “very difficult” for his country, as well as the rest of the world.
According to CNN, US officials have sent advisories for the first time to travelers in countries such as the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, South Korea, Japan, Thailand and Thailand’s neighbor Cambodia.
“Their strategy is to shut down European and US air travel. We don’t feel that we are going to face the same type of impact because people from all over the world want to experience the country,” said Somdet Sambathak, Bangkok’s regional head of The World Travel and Tourism Council.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations is not taking sides in the diplomatic situation, according to the Bangkok Post.
But the threat of violence continues. Last week, a suspect in a bomb attack at a shrine in Bangkok’s Chinatown was charged with terrorism. A man who appeared to be in his mid-40s also tried to snatch a British soldier’s ceremonial sword before he was arrested.
Terrorists carrying out suicide attacks or sophisticated cyberattacks could once again target tourist destinations, according to Will Allison, the director of the University of Maryland’s International Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence.
“If the US continues to issue a warning, there will be a political decision made by the US government at this time,” he said. “I am certain that there is more that they can do to educate American travelers to avoid going to these regions.”
Thailand was rocked by attacks in 2016. ISIS claimed responsibility for a bombing at the Erawan Shrine that killed 20 people. Seven months later, a lone-wolf gunman killed 17 people in a gun attack on a nightclub in the seaside resort of Pattaya.
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