A state of emergency has been declared in the world’s most-visited city, Bangkok and its surrounding provinces - including Suvarnabhumi Airport. But what does that actually mean for tourists? Should you continue your holiday as planned?
Here is some background info to help you make an informed decision.
What is a State of Emergency?
The decree gives security forces – usually police and military - the power to set curfews, detain anyone without charge, censor the media, ban political gatherings of more than five people, order people to move on, and declare buildings, streets or whole areas off-limits.
What does this mean for tourists?
The Thai government has imposed a State of Emergency covering Bangkok, including Suvarnabhumi airport, and surrounding provinces as anti-government protests continue and violence escalates.
A general election has been called for February 2nd, but the government must be confident of a result in their favour, further angering the protesters, because the State of Emergency will last for 60 days from January 22nd.
Is it dangerous for tourists?
Nine people have been killed and hundreds injured in two months of protests, but all are locals. There’s no indication tourists are being deliberately targeted, However the possibility remains that “innocent by-standers” could be injured as the level of violence escalates – another good reason to stay well away from any protest sites.
Should you still go to Thailand?
The unrest in Bangkok is confined to predictable, definitive locations:
- intersection of Silom/Sala Daeng/Rama IV roads;
- intersection of Asoke (Ratchadapisek) and Sukumvit Road,
- Ratchaprasong intersection,
- Pathumwan intersection,
- the Victory Monument,
- Lat Phrao intersection,
- the government complex at Chaeng Watthana
Even though Khaosan Road is just 500 metres from one of the major protest sites there is no evidence that it poses a serious threat to visitors – at present.
Thailand is a large and diverse country with many locations where the political troubles and unrest occurs only in the pages of the newspaper and on TV news reports. While there have been some (usually smaller) protests in Phuket and Chang Mai the focus is on Bangkok.
Are you still covered by travel insurance?
Travel insurance covers “unforeseen events”, incidents not possible to predict would happen. The widespread media coverage of current events in Bangkok (and Thailand as a whole) since December 2013 and the imposition of the State of Emergency on 22 January 2014, 4am AEDT, raised the situation beyond “unforeseen” to “foreseen”.
Sadly, it is now quite a reasonable expectation that civil unrest could impact on visitors. Consequently, exemptions from cover arising from events such as civil commotion, threats or acts of terrorism and taking of power by the military will apply to Travel Insurance Direct policies.
This doesn't mean that you are not insured at all, but it would be wise to consult your insurance company to find out just what is affected.
According to Phil Sylvester, Travel Safety Specialist with Travel Insurance Direct, "Our advice to travellers is to stay away from the hot spots and use caution and common sense whilst travelling in Thailand. There has been no indication that tourists are being deliberately targeted, and the protests are currently confined to predictable, definitive locations."
Find out more: http://www.travelinsurancedirect.com.au/