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Thailand's tourism likely to weather king's mourning period

AP  |  Bangkok 

Concerts and colossal beach parties in Thailand have been canceled. An annual festival meant to placate the country's goddess of water with lanterns that float into the sky will not take place.

And closed for the first time in years: red-light districts in the heart of the Thai capital filled with seedy go-go bars so irrepressible they managed to stay open even through past military coups.


The death of Thailand's revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej on Thursday has plunged this Southeast Asian nation into an unprecedented period of mourning like nothing it has ever seen, and it's likely to stay that way for some time.

But calm, not chaos, prevails, and the closures and cancellations are unlikely to last more than a month or have any serious long-term impact on tourism.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has declared a one-year mourning period and urged people to refrain from organizing entertainment events for 30 days.

But he has also made clear that life must go on, and urged businesses to remain open to ensure the nation does not "lose its credibility."

More than 30 million tourists visit Thailand every year, accounting for about 10 percent of government revenue. The industry is one of the few bright spots in an economy that has slumped since the army ousted a democratically elected government in 2014.

In a statement late yesterday, the Tourism Authority of Thailand confirmed that tourist attractions will remain open with the exception of Bangkok's gold-gilded Grand Palace, because it "will be the venue of the royal funeral rites."

Bhumibol's body was transported by royal procession to the palace's Temple of the Emerald Buddha, or Wat Phra Kaew, yesterday as thousands of people lined the roads.

Widely seen here as a unifying figure and the father of the nation, Bhumibol served as monarch for 70 years, so long that most Thais have known no other.

The subdued atmosphere that has engulfed the country since his death is unmistakable, visible in the black or white dress worn by millions of Thais in a massive show of mourning that has been displayed even on mannequins in luxury shopping malls.

In Bangkok, the neon-lit dinner cruise ships that ply the majestic Chao Phraya River every night have turned off their booming music.

Even some of the capital's most prominent red-light districts have shut down.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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