Deserted: Passengers walking through empty queue lines for passport control at the arrival hall of the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok. Thai businessmen are concerned about how the emergency decree will affect the tourism industry and investor confidence. — EPA
BANGKOK: Foreign chambers of commerce in Thailand have raised serious concerns about this week’s emergency decree affecting Bangkok and surrounding provinces, saying it will hurt the tourism sector and lead to a loss of investment opportunities.
Meanwhile, the Federation of Thai Capital Market Organisations yesterday urged the government to cancel the decree before its 60-day period ends, arguing that it will damage investors confidence, domestic trading, and the everyday life of people.
Tourism Council of Thailand president Piyaman Tejapaibul also said a special meeting of its members yesterday passed a resolution to ask the government to rescind the decree as soon as possible.
However, despite their concerns, many chambers still believe in Thailand’s basic economic strength, resilience, and other supporting factors such as its geographical location, in a perfect position to become a regional leader when the Asean Economic Community (AEC) is launched next year.
In normal times, hotels in Bangkok are fully booked during December and January. When the anti-government protests started, the cancellation rate was 30%, and after the state of emergency was declared, it went up to 70%, said Stanley Kang, chairman of the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce in Thailand.
Simon Landy, chairman of the British Chamber of Commerce Thailand, said the political situation was creating uncertainty, and businesses don’t like that, but the main effect of the declared state of emergency would be on tourism.
“The number of British visitors to Bangkok went down this month, but Phuket and Samui have no problem at all. Group tours will be the most affected by the state of emergency since it will be impossible for them to get travel insurance for their customers,” he said.
Phuket and Chiang Mai would benefit from the situation in Bangkok since many tourists would just go straight to other destination in Thailand instead of stopping in the capital for a few days as they usually do, he said.
Caretaker Tourism Minister Somsak Pureesrisak said yesterday that after the “Bangkok shutdown” reached its second week many countries had begun warning their citizens about coming to Thailand.
Kalin Sarasin, secretary-general of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said he did not agree with the declaration of the state of emergency because it would lower investors’ confidence and lead to missed opportunities, since many big business events scheduled for February and March have already begun to be cancelled.
Darren Buckley, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Thailand, said the emergency decree would mainly affect the tourism sector but would have only a small impact on investor confidence.
He said many long-term foreign investors still believed in Thailand’s resilience to setbacks and he agreed with Bank of Thailand Governor Prasarn Trairatvorakul’s comment that the economic fundamentals are sound and should be able to carry the country out of this slump once the political conflict is resolved. — The Nation / Asia News Network