The Tourism Authority of Thailand has been tasked to provide up-to-date tourist information regarding what tourism venues are open, shut, or postponed. And, as usual, they are doing a piss-poor job adding to the confusion instead of clarifying.
His Majesty, the King of Thailand, passed away on 13 October, and the Tourism Authority of Thailand went into panic mode shortly thereafter once it was announced that there would be a one-year mourning period.
Rumors flew, especially after the ruling junta comandeered all the television stations, with no one knowing what the hell was going on. Would bars be closed for 1 year? No booze for one year? Or, would it be one month? One week? No one had a clue.
My buddy, Tom, from Tomrollingstone.com, put it quite succinctly stating that the government didn’t have a contingency plan in place for when the King died. So, everyone is just winging it.
So, commencing on 14 October, the Tourism Authority of Thailand started their misinfomation program providing little or no help for anyone planning a holiday to Thailand. The foreign press were no better, since all they did was quote the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
This is what the Tourism Authority of Thailand reported on 14 October, the day after the King died:
• Tourist attractions will be open as usual with the exception of Wat Phra Kaeo (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) and the Grand Palace, as they will be the venue of the Royal Funeral Rites.
Tom and I found this quite funny as we were on a roadtrip to Mukdahan to watch the Awk Phansa (end of Buddhist Lent) festivities which included boat races between Thailand and Laos on the Mekhong River. Contrary to what the Tourism Authority of Thailand reported, the boat races were cancelled.
We also found out the illuminated boat display in Nakhon Phanom was cancelled,
This was also part of that 14 October report:
• The Government has asked for the cooperation from the entertainment venues; such as, bars and nightclubs to consider the opening of their business operations during this time. The decision will be made by the individual owners.
Except bars were completely shutdown as reported in The Sun. This is what sent the Tourism Authority of Thailand into a tizzy along with numerous reports of hotel cancellations – right at the beginning of High Season.
Then, the Tourism Authority of Thailand came out on the 15th of October with a list of tourist attractions and events in select areas of the country to inform tourists what was open, closed, or postponed. The problem was the report only covered Bangkok, and a little bit in Kanchanaburi, Pattaya, Phuket, and Chiang Mai – the major tourist areas.
It was good to see that the transvestite shows in Phuket and Pattaya were open.
So, you can see there is no rhyme nor reason as to what was open or closed. The Tourism Authority of Thailand also added a couple of links to the Thai Government website and to the Thai National News Bureau (Government propaganda sites) which are just as worthless.
On 16 October, the Tourism Authority of Thailand devoted the update to information primarily geared towards local Thais on how, when and where to go to pay respects to His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
As for venue updates we have this brilliant piece of info:
During the period of national mourning, TAT would like to advise that some festivals and activities in the kingdom may be cancelled or postponed. Other events will go ahead as planned, but may be toned down as a mark of respect.
Thanks for nothing.
On the 17th, the Tourism Authority of Thailand had a longer list of venues that are either open, closed or postponed, and most of it makes no sense – especially for Pattaya.
A major Thai holiday, Loy Krathong, is cancelled – but only in Pattaya. This is a nation-wide event and one that brings in many foreigners. A major fireworks show and New Years eve and day celebrations are cancelled. Makes no sense at all.
There are a couple of concerts in Bangkok- Morrissey and the Scorpions – that are both cancelled.
Again, the Tourism Authority of Thailand is only providing sketchy information and mainly focusing on major tourist areas with a smattering of updates for places like Kanchanaburi and Krabi.
Isaan seems to be completely forgotten.
Then, we have yesterday’s situation update and the Tourism Authority of Thailand reports:
Tourist attractions will be open as usual with the exception of Wat Phra Kaeo (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) and the Grand Palace, as they will be the venue of the Royal Funeral Rites. All transport, banks, shopping areas, hospitals and other public services will be operating as usual.
But, just yesterday, the Tourism Authority of Thailand gave us a list of closures.
This is the problem. If a foreigner is planning of visiting Thailand and does a Google search for updated info, it depends on which of the five updates he happens across and one would think the latest would be the most accurate – wrong.
The media outside of Thailand just regurgitates what the Tourism Authority of Thailand issues. Here is the Washington Post talking about closed strip clubs and Skyscanner with basically a copy/paste. TravelDailyNews does what it always does – copies the Tourism Authority of Thailand website and rearranges paragraphs.
And, where is the Minister of Tourism and Sports? Writing poetry.
But, don’t worry. We will be assured by the Tourism Authority of Thailand that this will have no impact on Thai Tourism.
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