Bangkok bomb compounds ‘difficult summer’ for trade

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Tour operators are continuing to operate to Thailand as usual despite this week’s bomb blast – the second direct attack on tourists in two months.

But industry observers admitted alarm at the way the tourism industry had been targeted twice in such a short space of time in what has been described as a “difficult summer” for the trade.

The pipe bomb attack, which Thailand’s defence minister Prawit Wongsuwan said “was intended to destroy the economy and tourism”, killed at least 20 people, including one British national.

It took place in the heart of Bangkok’s tourism district at the Erawan Shrine on Monday evening and came eight weeks after a gunman killed 38 tourists on the beach of the Riu Imperial Marhaba hotel in Sousse, Tunisia, on June 26.

Travel industry consultant, Andy Cooper, said: “Over the years, periodically, there have been attacks on tourists. Tourism has always been vulnerable to this sort of thing, and coming so soon after the Tunisia attack, this could easily damage consumer confidence, which does concern me.”

Alan Bowen, managing partner of AGB Associates, said it would be “very dangerous to link the Tunisia and Thailand attacks” but added: “Most operators will be glad when this summer is over.

“It has been very disappointing and worrying.”

He said: “I think it will put families off travelling to or via Bangkok.”

However, Derek Moore, chairman of the Association of Independent Tour Operators, was not overly concerned about a drop-off in travel to Thailand as a result of the bomb. “People will not stop travelling,” he said.

Operators and agents insisted it was “business as usual”, despite the devastating attack.

Kuoni had 39 clients in Bangkok at the time of the blast, while Premier Holidays had 21 customers in the city. All were contacted and were unaffected.

Both operators were monitoring the situation, but holidays were continuing as planned.

A spokeswoman for Kuoni said: “Our team is proactively calling all customers due to travel to Thailand from the UK over the next few days to update them on the situation. Our ground agent Asian Trails has reported operations in Bangkok are back to normal.”

Premier Holidays head of sales and marketing, Debbie Goffin, said: “Our customers in Bangkok and clients due to travel have expressed little concern. Whether this incident will have an effect on tourism undoubtedly comes down to the media coverage and how long it remains a top story.”

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