Thailand's tourism sector on high alert
Thailand's tourism industry is warily watching the ongoing street demonstrations in Bangkok and other parts of the kingdom, as the first signs emerge of a drop in forward bookings.
Forward bookings from Australia are among those below trend expectations, although Sugree Sithivanich, deputy governor for marketing communications of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), said overall forward bookings were still positive, with an increase of 2.2% for December and 14.2% for next month.
Despite the escalating political tension, TAT is still confident that the country will achieve its 2013 projection of 26.1 million foreign tourist arrivals thanks to a continuing flow of visitors from Europe - particularly Russia - and the Americas.
So far, 34 governments have issued mid-level warnings to their people planning to travel to Thailand. New Zealand was the latest to announce such a warning.
Four people have died in Thailand's worst political turmoil since the 2010 rallies that ended in violence.
In its regular updates on the crisis, TAT said volatile situations remain in the areas surrounding Government House and the Parliament and the Metropolitan Police Bureau.
All 14 roads leading to the two locations were closed to traffic, and tourists should avoid these areas, TAT said.
Historical attractions, theme parks, shopping malls, hotels, restaurants, local markets, temples and river tours were open and operating as per normal, the tourism authority added.
Suvarnabhumi Airport has advised air travellers of possible heavy road traffic and a lack of taxis resulting from the protests in Bangkok