Curfew now scrapped in 32 areas

Tourism operators have expressed relief and optimism for the industry after the army-imposed curfew was lifted in 32 more areas nationwide.

On Tuesday night, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) ended the midnight-4am curfew in Kanchanaburi; Ratchaburi; Phetchaburi’s Muang, Khao Yoi, Nong Ya Plong, Tha Yang, Ban Lat, Ban Laem and Kang Krachan districts; Rayong; Chanthaburi; Trat’s Muang, Khao Saming, Bo Rai, Laem Ngop, Khlong Yai and Koh Kut districts; Nakhon Phanom; Sakon Nakhon; Roi Et; Loei; Surin; Tak; Sukhothai; Mae Hong Son; Uttaradit; Phrae; Nan; Songkhla’s Muang and Sadao districts; Trang; and Satun.

Earlier, the junta lifted the curfew in the resort areas of Pattaya, Koh Samui, Phuket, Cha-am, Hua Hin, Krabi and Phangnga.

Tanongsak Somwong, president of the Tourism Association of Koh Samui, said the island’s tourism environment had improved since the curfew ended. The trend bodes well for the months of July and August, a high season for Samui.

Advance bookings for July and August are about 60%, and hotels on the island say bookings should gradually increase, as many tourists prefer to book 14-21 days in advance. Mr Tanongsak said his group was confident the average occupancy rate in Koh Samui’s high season would be close to 90% like in 2013.

“We’ll miss the double-digit tourism growth projection this year due to the impact from political problems,” he said. “But we’re still confident we can see growth of at least 8%, and tourist visits to Samui will reach 1,836,000 this year.”

While the NCPO has lifted the curfew in most tourism areas, Bangkok and Chiang Mai are still subject to it.

“I think hoteliers understand the current situation and the curfew. Safety is their main concern,” said Surapong Techaruvichit, president of the Thai Hotels Association (THA), which expects tourist confidence in Thailand to be restored shortly.

Online bookings have shown a positive trend since the curfew’s removal, but bookings through travel agents remain unhealthy. Bookings this month should come in at 35-45% nationwide, according to the THA, down from 50-60% during normal times.

La-iad Bungsrithong, president of the THA’s northern chapter, said the curfew had cut occupancy in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai to 35-40%, down from 65% usually.

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