Who Do You Believe – The Association Of Thai Travel Agents Or The Tourism Authority Of Thailand?
Posted by on Apr 14, 2012 in TAT, Thailand

It didn’t take long for the Tourism Authority of Thailand to come out after the Indonesia Earthquake and tsunami alert to boldly declare that the events would have no impact on tourism.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand does this after each and every crisis in Thailand in order to entice tourists back and restore the damaged image of Thailand.

Tourism Authority of Thailand Songkran 2012

Tourism Authority of Thailand Songkran 2012

It doesn’t matter is it is a flood, car bombing, earthquake, or tsunami, the Tourism Authority of Thailand will always come out the next day and declare that it will have absolutely no impact on tourism.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand does this no matter how ridiculous it sounds and despite facts to the contrary. From the Official Thai Government News – National News Bureau of Thailand, Public Relations Department – ATTA: Earthquake to impact Thai tourism business:

BANGKOK, 12 April 2012 (NNT) – The Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA) has predicted that the 8.6-Richter magnitude earthquake, which occurred in Sumatra Island on Wednesday, will hurt the Thai tourism business for the next few months.

Unlike Thais, the rest of the world doesn’t forget something happened the next day. People still remember the devastating tsunami of 2004.

According to ATTA Chairman Sitdiwat Cheevarattanaporn, the recent earthquake will affect tourists’ decision to travel to provinces where tsunami warning were previously issued, especially Phuket, during the Songkran Festival. It is expected that the impact will last for at least 2-3 months due to the lack of confidence in security among tourists. Although the tsunami did not occur, it is hardly possible to guarantee that it will not. And in the case that it should happen, the degree of violence would be hard to predict.

Something got lost in the translation – tsunamis do not cause violence – they do cause a lot of damage and loss of life.

Thus, tourists, especially the MICE groups, will most likely avoid visiting those areas, which will lead to a slowdown in tourist activities as well as trip cancellations. However, the exact cancellation rate will be determined within the next few days. The natural disaster is also expected to reduce local tourism towards the year-end.

And, most likely, we will get false numbers from the Tourism Authority of Thailand and more realistic numbers from the Thai tourism private sector. The day after the earthquake, the Malaysian news Bernama reported – TAT: Indonesia’s quake won’t affect Phuket tourism:

BANGKOK, April 12 (Bernama) — The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) says international tourists appear to understand that a massive 8.6 magnitude earthquake off the Indonesian coast Wednesday afternoon and subsequently triggering tsunami warnings in six southern Thai Andaman provinces, was just a natural disaster and tourism in Phuket province will not be affected.

Bullshit. Tourism will be impacted – this is just damage control from the Tourism Authority of Thailand in an attempt to keep tourists in Phuket and also Malaysian tourists in Hat Yai. The next article is also from the National News Bureau of Thailand and shows the lunacy – Indonesian quake has no impact on Trang tourism:

TRANG, 12 April 2012 (NNT) – President of the Trang Tourism Association Prateep Jongthong indicates that tourism in Trang province has returned to normal after the tsunami warning was lifted yesterday.

This guy must be in cahoots with the Tourism Authority of Thailand – just wait – you will see.

Mr. Prateep said even though over 80% of trip bookings to Trang were canceled immediately after the tsunami alert was issued in the area, approximately 500-700 Thai and foreign tourists have turned up today to take boat trips to experience the natural beauty of the sea of Trang.

80% cancellations is normal? No impact?

Meanwhile, Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Trang Office Jaran Chuennaitham said the Indonesian quake did not have any impact on the tourism of this province. No cancellations of hotel room reservations, either on the mainland or on the islands, have been reported. He believed the local tourism atmosphere will be particularly lively during Songkran.

Who do you believe? In the same article one guy says 80% cancellations and the Tourism Authority of Thailand says none. Finally, from the Phuketindex – TAT assures tourism in Phuket is not affected:

(12 April 2012) Tourism Authority of Thailand(TAT) has clarified tourists about the earthquake and Tsunami warning. However, due to reliable warning systems and good tourism coordination, no cancellation has been made yet.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand posted their sugar-coated updated on tatnews.org after the fact. TAT also posted on Facebook, in the Thai language, about 1 hour after everyone else already posted info on the earthquake. The “reliable warning system” was semi-reliable as many of the warning sirens did not work. Most tourists found out about the possibility of a tsunami by word of mouth or from watching hotel staff flee to the hills of Phuket. Kind of amazing that not one single soul cancelled their holiday based on an earthquake and a tsunami alert but this is how the Tourism Authority of Thailand tries to conduct damage control.

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