Bangkok's International Airport Officially Reopens


Ron Corben

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 Bangkok's airports.

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.

Tourism 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

Santichai Euachongprasit, a marketing executive for the Tourism Authority of Thailand, says a new advertising campaign will start soon.

"A 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," said Santichai.

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

Although 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.

"I'm 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.

Thailand is politically deeply split. Coalition parties tied to former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra are strongly backed by rural and working class voters.

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.

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs