DOHA, June 1 Airline bookings to Thailand have
collapsed, a travel association said on Sunday, after the
military took over the government on May 22, hitting the tourism
sector that accounts for 10 percent of the economy.
The coup followed months of protests that weakened the
government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, forced
ministries to close for weeks on end, hurt business confidence
and caused the economy to shrink.
On May 19, there were around 28,000 inbound bookings for
Thailand a day, according to sample figures from the Pacific
Asia Travel Association (PATA), seen by Reuters. But on May 23,
the daily tally was 5,000 cancellations.
Even before the military stepped in, the Tourism Authority
of Thailand had cut its forecast for foreign arrivals this year
to a five-year low of 26.3 million as political unrest deterred
The figures on the drop in airline bookings were being
circulated at a global meeting of airlines in Doha, where
industry executives are worried about the impact of political
instability in Thailand and Ukraine on wider travel demand.
Short-haul bookings from countries such as China, where
people typically book travel a few weeks in advance, have been
hit especially hard, Martin Craigs, chief executive of PATA,
told Reuters. Bookings from long-haul travellers were not down
as much because they tend to book further in advance, he said.
Craigs said tourism bosses had spoken to the Thai military
to highlight that the sector was central to the economy and to
call for a repeal of the nationwide curfew, currently in place
from midnight to 4 am.
(Reporting by Tim Hepher and Victoria Bryan; editing by Jane