Tourists pick Hat Yai after Yala bomb

Hotels in Songkhla's Hat Yai district have been overwhelmingly reserved for end of Ramadan celebrations as tourists are shifting from restive Betong district in Yala.

Somchart Pimthanapoonporn, former president of the Hat Yai-Songkhla Hoteliers Association, said on Saturday that groups of tourists had changed their destination from Betong to Hat Yai for the Hari Raya holiday to celebrate the end of the fasting.

"Tourists view that the unrest is far (from Hat Yai)," he said.

Mr Somchart said that 90% of the rooms at his Sakura Grand View hotel in Hat Yai had been booked and all of them should be occupied on Sunday.

Local authorities are stepping up security measures to guarantee safety in Hat Yai, he said.

Provincial authorities met local security officials and operators of Hat Yai on Saturday to discuss safety measures. They mentioned the increase in the number of checkpoints around and inside Hat Yai and urged all parties to watch out for signs and suspicious movements as tourists were arriving in the district.

Police, soldiers and administrators searched rented rooms in the district on Saturday as part of the stepped-up security. The searches focused on rooms occupied by natives from the three southern border provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat.

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