Thailand's main international and domestic airports in Bangkok have
officially reopened - the first step in the recovery of the country's
tourism industry. Political protests had closed the runways for eight
days, stranding hundreds of thousands of people.
Thai dancers, puppet theater
and traditional music greeted passengers Friday as Bangkok's
international airport formally reopened.
The ceremonies marked a
first step toward recovery for the tourism industry after eight days of
protests by the anti-government People's Alliance for Democracy closed
Court ban led to end of siege at airports
The siege ended Wednesday after a court
banned Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat and his party from politics
because of election law violations.
The protests stranded more than 300,000 travelers.
accounts for about six percent of the country's economy, and in 2007 14
million people visited. Officials warn that could be cut by half next
year, in part because of the protests.
New ad campaign hopes to revive tourism
Euachongprasit, a marketing executive for the Tourism Authority of
Thailand, says a new advertising campaign will start soon.
public relations [campaign], a strong message that we can take to the
world that our situation is coming back to real normal and this is
going to make the public have confidence in coming back to Thailand,"
Somsong Sachaphimukh, is the general manager of
the travel agent, S.S. Group. She is confident that European travelers
will be among the first to return to Thailand.
"I can say that
80 percent will come back to Thailand because of the hospitality they
have received from the Thai [people]. Thai Airways and the TAT they
joined hands to really help the tourists," she said.
Airport flight schedule not yet back to normal
airport officials say the facilities are ready to go, not all airlines
have rescheduled flights. On Friday, the international facility handled
about two-thirds its normal daily load of 700 flights.
Australian traveler Gary Radcliff was ready for his flight.
very pleased about it. I'll be glad to get home. I was going out
Thursday a week ago. Under the current circumstances I've got no
complaints," he said.
But, he adds, he will wait until Thailand's political situation calms down before returning.
is politically deeply split. Coalition parties tied to former Prime
Minister Thaksin Shinawatra are strongly backed by rural and working
But the PAD and other groups, made up largely of
the educated middle class, accuse Mr. Thaksin of being corrupt and
authoritarian. The PAD vows to resume its protests if the next prime
minister is too closely linked to Mr. Thaksin.