Large German tour company TUI announced it would suspend all tour packages to Bangkok and northern Thailand while offering alternative destinations to its customers. TUI said all present visitors would be sent to Phuket.
Thai Airways International is considering a cutback in flight capacity of 10-15 percent to reflect a downturn in bookings. Managers in several territories have been asked to rationalise their routes to match the slowdown in demand, especially through Bangkok.
A daily wrap of Thailand news, with a Phuket perspective, plus relevant reports from national and international media.
Indonesia has detained 28 beach boys accused of selling sex to female tourists on Bali after a documentary on the island's gigolos hit the Internet, an official said. The round-up of Bali's so-called ''cowboys'' began as tourism officials fretted over the impact on Bali's image as a family destination.
'Cowboys in Paradise,' by Singapore-based writer and director Amit Virmani, was released at a film festival in South Korea last week.
Thailand is in unrest as civil war breaks out
A local researcher of Thailand has created a soft bulletproof vest made totally from materials sourced in Thailand. It is believed as a measure for reducing costs of military equipments, as like many other developing countries Thailand's military spends millions on imported military equipment.
The government will use its strengthened security forces and new containment plans to stop the red shirts from broadening their campaign to other parts of the city today. The latest move to pressure PM Abhisit Vejjajiva calls for red shirts to move out of their stronghold and hold several rallies elsewhere.
Asian Trails CEO Lutzi Matzig voiced his anger at travel warnings and advisories against travels to Bangkok, as well as the whole of Thailand. ''Germany, France, the UK and now Switzerland have all issued travel advisories to avoid Bangkok, unless it is vital to visit there. This is a totally misguided and hasty reaction.
Only a tiny part of Bangkok is currently occupied by the red shirts. The rest of the capital is still open to the public and lives in a very normal way. They just issue advisories to cover their back sides. In case of anything going wrong, they would just say that they have warned their citizens beforehand.''
The number of foreign tourists arriving at Suvarnabhumi airport has dropped from an average 30,000 a day to 21,000 because of the prolonged and escalating anti-government rally, Tourism and Sports Minister Chumpol Silpa-archa said. Mr Chumpol said the Tourism Authority of Thailand had proposed a tourism crisis recovery plan to the government. ''The plan will be executed after the political situation returns to normal,'' the minister said.
Thailand's neighbors are watching the political unrest in Bangkok with growing concern. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations has said the protests there could spread economic and political instability throughout the region. Asean has called on the Thai government and the anti-government demonstrators to exercise restraint and to seek a settlement through dialogue and reconciliation.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand is optimistic that the country's tourism industry will bounce back quickly. ''Tourist arrivals in Bangkok, yes there is a slight problem. But in Thailand, we have seen tourism going up and down in the past but the industry as a whole will bounce back very quickly,''' said TAT adviser Phonsiri Manoharn.
Some of the American diplomats have moved their residence temporarily out of the protesting areas while 600 Americans in Bangkok showed up at a rare town-hall meeting Monday to hear their ambassador briefed about the political stand-off. Michael Turner, the embassy spokesman, said some embassy employees living in the areas of the red shirt rallies have taken up the embassy's offer to facilitate their temporary relocation.
Indonesia's justice minister has opened the country's first prison wing for people convicted of corruption. The wing, which is part of Cipinang Penitentiary in East Jakarta, can house up to 256 inmates convicted of graft. It was built after it emerged that many officials jailed for corruption were living relatively luxurious lives behind bars.
Swedish newspapers are abuzz with speculation about what caused the break-up of Princess Madeleine's relationship with her boyfriend of eight years after the two called off their wedding. The Swedish royal family announced the split, giving no reasons behind the decision of 27-year-old Madeleine and lawyer Jonas Bergstrom to cancel their wedding. A Norwegian media report quoted a woman who said she had had sex with Bergstrom, 31, after meeting him in a nightclub at a ski resort.
The Phase II renovation of Cape Panwa Resort & Spa on Phuket will begin before May10, said General Manager Claude Sauter. The upgrade will turn more rooms into Cape Suites. ''In the meantime we are almost complete with the new wings, where we will have the 54 Junior Suites,'' Mr Sauter said. ''So far the feedback has been very positive, our guests love the extra space and the new design.'' Phase II will be finished in October.
In a remarkable display of uniformity, nearly every DVD shop in central Shanghai has built a partition that divides the store into two sections: one that sells legal DVDs (often films no one is interested in buying), and a hidden one that sells the illegal titles that everyone wants - Hollywood blockbusters like 'Avatar' (for a dollar), Tim Burton's 'Alice in Wonderland' and even Lady Gaga's latest CD 'The Fame.' The Shanghai World Expo opens on May 1.
Burma's PM Thein Sein was said to be among about 20 ministers who retired from military posts late on Monday night. They are expected to run as civilian politicians in Burma's first election in two decades, although it is not yet clear what platform they will use. Twenty-five percent of the seats in Burma's new parliament have already been reserved for the military. But if military officials contested the polls as civilians, the armed forces could potentially take many more seats in the chamber.
Under Burma's new constitution, real power would reside in a national defence and security council. Parliament would serve as no more than a rubber stamp, for the sake of Burma's international image.
By a 3-2 vote, Santa Clara County supervisors approved the nation's first childhood obesity ordinance targeting toy giveaways with fast-food meals. The ordinance would prohibit restaurants from giving away toys with kids' meals that are high in fat, sugar and calories.
A new BBC Radio 1 DJ from South Norwood is stranded in Thailand because of volcanic ash, preventing him from starting his new show. Mark Bright, 23, said: ''I am genuinely gutted that I am stuck out here. Believe it or not being stuck in a wicked place like this when I'm meant to be starting my new show is killing me.''
New Yorkers are debating whether the city is growing ever more heartless in the face of crime after dozens of people ignored a homeless hero bleeding to death in the street. Hugo Tale-Yax collapsed with stab wounds on a pavement shortly after stopping a knife-wielding mugger attacking a woman.He lay dying in a pool of blood as people strolled past, some pausing briefly to look at him.
Based on C9 Hotelworks market research there are currently 31 properties with 4600 rooms under planning and development on Phuket. Samui will see six new branded hotels with 541 keys set to open over the next 15 months.
Despite continuing political unrest, Banyan Tree is expected to open its third resort in Thailand, this time on the island of Koh Samui, on July 15. On Lamai Beach, the Banyan Tree Samui will have 78 Thai-style villas. Rates begin at $500 night, on par with its resort on Phuket.
W Hotels Worldwide will launch W Retreat - Koh Samui, the first W Retreat in Thailand, in the summer of 2010. Residences will feature 17 secluded beachfront villas, ranging from three to five bedrooms, among 75 private villas.
Two farewells are taking place for popular Phuket writer-musician Tony Kelsey-Stead, who died of leukemia in Britain recently. On May 2 the Andaman Players will put on a free show at The Green Man pub in Chalong from 6.30pm, with donations welcome for Tony's partner Fon, who is now in hospital.
On May 4 from 6pm at Friendship Beach in Rawai, tribute will be paid by musicians who played with Tony.
From April 28-May 4 a local products show called 'The Best Thai Products' will be held at Saphan Hin public park in Phuket City. About 250 products are expected to be on display.
April 28 GreenLOVE festival to raise awareness about local and international environmental issues and solutions, British International School 8am-3pm.
April 29 Mom Tri's Boathouse on Kata Beach, 7pm, first of several popular Boathouse literary events of summer 2010. Bjorn Turmann, internationally recognised writer/speaker, will relate stories of his experiences with fiction, film and whatever else happens to be on his mind that day.
April 30 Lions Club Of Phuket Pearl is holding a jazz concert and dance night, performed by children from the Phuket Academy of Dance, at the Royal Phuket Marina. Details: 081 477 0342.
May 1 The Phuket Has Been Good To Us foundation, first fund-raising ball, Sheraton Grande Laguna Resort, 6.30pm-Midnight.
May 31-June 5 Eight-nation football tournament for players over 55 at Surakul Stadium in Phuket City. Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Taiwan, Iran, Armenia competing.
May Annual Phuket seafood festival.
May Date to be finalised for Muay Thai kickboxing competition at Laguna Phuket.
May 21-23 Paragliding on Phuket.
June 4-13 Phuket International Film Festival, Coliseum Cineplex, Phuket City.
June 13 Laguna Phuket International Marathon. Fun runs, too.
December 4-11 Phuket King's Cup Regatta
February 9-13 The Bay Regatta - Phuket, Phang Nga, Krabi
A new radar system will be an Asian first for Thailand, helping to make life safer on the Andaman Sea and provide a warning of a possible second tsunami.
Mediation has settled 'compensation' for the family of a young man who was killed in a jet ski collision. Now a police investigation is expected to clear his friend of blame.
About 100 Patong people marched in a strong appeal for a tunnel through Patong Hill. The tunnel, controversial and costly, is the topic at a 'town hall' meeting.
Back to Phuket's beaches come lifeguards, unsighted on the sand for five months. Rip currents in the monsoon season pose a threat to the lives of swimmers on the island.
Skytrain stops; Rallies stunt Thailand growth; Novotel Panwa has new owner; Singapore gambles from today; Regatta has a new name.