Outlook for Thai tourism industry bleak

The Thai economy is said to be losing about $80 million a day in lost tourism revenue on account of the seizure of the country's two main airports by demonstrators prone to violence.

Reuters reports that it will take the country a week to reopen Bangkok's main airport terminal once the protesters either agree to leave or are forced to go. Some airport equipment may have been smashed reports Bangkok Pundit, who is a great source of up to date information about the situation in Bangkok generally.

Also, Bangkok-based journalist Newley Purnell has spoken with travelers at Bangkok's besieged airports and been posting updates at his blog. Newley recently reported from U-Tapao, a former US airbase converted into a make-shift international airport facility:

Some travel agents bussed passengers down to U-Tapao, which is near the tourist resort of Pattaya, but with information proving difficult to come by in Bangkok, others came on their own more in hope than expectation.

Huge traffic jams built up outside the sprawling compound. Thai soldiers with M16 rifles guarded the entrance to the airport to prevent anti-government protesters from gaining access, as travellers lugged their bags under the sun.

Once inside the terminal, it was standing room only. Travelers were unsure where they should check in. Long queues wound around the lone luggage scanner, where soldiers tried to hold back the surging crowd.

"It's complete chaos and pandemonium," said Bonnie Chan, 29, from San Diego, California.

"We've been given incorrect information from the airlines. The US embassy says they can't help us. We're high and dry. The airlines keep giving us the run-around."

Meanwhile, France has hired a jumbo jet to fly French citizens home to safety. Why other countries are not responding like this is something of a mystery to me. There are supposedly 300,000 people stranded in Thailand!

Updates about the situation in Thailand also continue to be posted at Jotman.com

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