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Korean tourists Juwon and her mother support Patong protesters

Patong Protesters Tie Up Traffic, Entertain Phuket Tourists: Photo Special

Monday, January 20, 2014
PHUKET: Rallying protesters broke the unwritten agreement not to go into tourist areas on Phuket by marching through Patong today for several hours.

Traffic around the west coast holiday hub's one-way system was disrupted as hundreds of marchers drew tourists from resorts and restaurants by blowing whistles and chanting.

This afternoon, protesters who started at 9am were still on the streets, turning from Rat-U-Tit 200 Pi road - the artery that runs parallel with the beach road - down towards Patong Bay.

They'd marched past Jungceylon shopping mall and the Royal Paradise Hotel, where a martyred taxi driver once worked.

Tourists took the diversion with smiles and questions about what color the protest was, Red or Yellow. The protesters responded: ''No color. This protest is against corruption.''

Korean tourist Juwon told Phuketwan that she and her mother had diverted from Bangkok to Phuket because of government warnings about the protests in the capital.

But she said: ''Our government advised us to avoid Bangkok and that's why we are in Patong. But protesting is a basic right and people here are extremely friendly. This is just another culture.''

A 66-year-old Swedish tourist said he had already visited Bangkok. ''It was very crowded there,'' he said.

''I don't have any problem with protests on Phuket. I think people have the right to express themselves, as long as there's no violence.''

It's not known how long traffic will be disrupted on Phuket, where protests are usually confined by agreement with the Governor, Maitree Intrusud, to Phuket City, where few tourists are seen.

For the first time, because of the death in a blast in Bangkok of father of three Prakong Chujan, who was a taxi driver in Patong, the marchers have taken to the streets on the holiday west coast.

Tourists who smiled and questioned protesters about the reason for the demonstration appeared to understand when told: ''Thaksin Shinawatra.''

The former Prime Minister, now in self-imposed exile, is blamed by anti-government protesters for the corruption and failings of his sister Yingluck's rule in the same role.

Her attempt to settle the uprising with a national election on February 2 seems unlikely to succeed because protesters on Phuket and in many other southern provinces have prevented candidates from registering.

The opposition Democrat Party - favored on Phuket and in the south - is boycotting the polls. The Bangkok Post reported today that Khun Yingluck has sent a signal she is ready to step down and postpone the election.

She also wants assurances that her family will be safe, the newspaper said. Protesters want the Shinawatra family to stand aside from Thailand's politics as the first step towards national healing.

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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I can appreciate the need to put a positive spin on protests in the heart of Phuket tourism but the fact is that as safe as it may appear to be for the moment, blockades will disrupt services and the free movement of tourists.

It may be fun to watch for a day or two but if it drags on and supplies start to run out and people can't get in and out of Patong, I'm sure the smiles will start to turn a bit surly.

I fail to see how the cause can be aided by paralyzing Patong, though with all the sleaze it harbors, I'm actually happy to see this thing happening.

Just feel sorry for the residents there who have little or no choice.

Patong business owners stand to lose huge amounts of peak high season revenue due to these protests and I doubt they are all smiles like the tourists spoken to in this report.

If their trade takes a serious financial hit, I'd be very surprised if they just sit idly by and watch the protesters blockades.

IMO extending protests to tourism locations is a very bad idea which will backfire bigtime.

Posted by ThaiMike on January 20, 2014 12:47

Editor Comment:

Has Patong been paralysed? ''Huge amounts'' of peak season revenue lost? First we've heard of it. Traffic has certainly been disrupted but protesters seem at pains today to allow vehicle to proceed. Do you know something we don't? Guesswork is pointless. ''Positive spin'' we'll leave to commenters.

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Dear Ed, I said " IF "

"If their trade takes a serious financial hit"

1 day of protests will have little impact either way.

1 week is an entirely different story.

Let's see where we are 1 week from now.

FYI for some reason ChaoFa West road has 1 lane closed both ways and a LOT of police stationed all along it. I wonder if royalty is visiting or what's up. Maybe you know ?

Posted by ThaiMike on January 20, 2014 13:26

Editor Comment:

Sorry, no knowledge about that.

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No matter the spin some people are trying to put on it, tourist trade on Phuket has taken a hit already since the protests in Bangkok were announced and a big hit since the protests have really started.

Posted by stevenl on January 20, 2014 14:01

Editor Comment:

You'll have to supply evidence to support your claims or readers are entitled to ask ''says who? based on what?''

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"You'll have to supply evidence to support your claims or readers are entitled to ask ''says who? based on what?''--- well what kind of evidennce do u want ED? other than from me with more than 7 years business in Phuket with the same business and as it has grown well every year with December 2013 as the best month so far , after new year it went even better until the problem started in Bangkok, January 2013 was the best month before that and Januari every year is the absolute best month, this january after Bangkok riots , which u support btw, the figures are same as Lowseason, also every single business owner italk to have exactly the same problem... but as u once said, i maybe have to go out at daytime? ... but my question to u is ,- do u have evidence that i am wrong and ignorant?

Posted by Frog on January 20, 2014 14:36

Editor Comment:

We don't support Bangkok ''riots,'' Frog. What we support is change for the better. And if your business has suffered this year compared to previous years, that's precisely the kind of evidence we asked stevenl to deliver. But Khao Lak appeared to be buzzing at the weekend so your problem could have more do with increased competition for peoples' time and cash than anything else.

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Isn't the evidence to support steveni's claim that tourism is taking a hit set out in a headline you wrote today and the article under it?:-
Tourism Event in Bangkok Postponed as Hotels Suffer
By Chutima Sidasathian and Alan Morison
Monday, January 20, 2014

Posted by Jezz on January 20, 2014 18:28

Editor Comment:

Phuket is a long way from Bangkok and in the past, when Bangkok has suffered, Phuket has been fine.

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ThaiMike: "FYI for some reason ChaoFa West road has 1 lane closed both ways and a LOT of police stationed all along it."

Yes, that's another 25 minutes of my life I won't get back again waiting to get through a totally stationary traffic stop at Hayek Chalong.

I, too, thought that we might have been blessed by a VIP visitor, or that maybe there was an accident on the circle, but it was probably these anti-government protesters screwing up the traffic.

Thanks Suthep, we all love you so much.

Posted by Buster on January 20, 2014 20:27

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Has tourism to Phuket suffered as a result of the Bangkok protests?

Here are some stats from my airport hotel guest bookings:

Customer cancellations for January 2013 = 0.6%
Customer cancellations for January 2014 = 25%

These figures are from bookings made at my hotel with Expedia.com/Hotels.com (proof can be provided).

Most (almost all) cancellations have come from Chinese, Korean and Japanese guests, who presumably watch the news about Thailand in their home country and assume that the current protests and violence is affecting all of Thailand.

Luckily for my airport hotel businesses, the 25% cancellations have been replaced by 25% of new bookings - so my rooms are still fully booked.

Nevertheless, the underlying stats speak for themselves and I feel for business owners who are not so fortunate as me to be able to secure new bookings to replace those who cancel.

Simon

Posted by Simon Luttrell on January 20, 2014 22:16

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Maybe the number of Asian visitors is down, but i count that as a blessing as they are valueless to me, and makes for slightly less cluttered walkways in Patong. Fewer people standing gormlessly in the middle of the road, and easier access to Jungceylon.
My own business, aimed at westerners is enjoying its best month since Jan 2011.

Posted by jimbo34 on January 20, 2014 22:43

Editor Comment:

Thanks for the information, jimbo34.

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It is amazing how they can organise a protest within a day, but take oh... 5 years+ to not fix the jetskis, not fix the tuktuks and not fix the illegal taxis.

If they put their efforts into fixing the problems in Phuket like they do with protests this island would actually improve considerably.

Posted by Tbs on January 21, 2014 08:32

Editor Comment:

Who are these ''they'' that you seem to think organise protests and somehow also have the power to fix things? ''They'' are mostly just individuals, like you.

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Ed,

Some direct feedback from an owner of two restaurants in Patong - we aim at tourists and have a lot of Chinese, Russian and Australian customers. November, fantastic month. First two weeks of December (problems start in BKK), quiet as a graveyard. Second two weeks of December, people queuing for tables. January - first week really busy, second two weeks, very very quiet.

Last Christmas / NY, full and busy from end of October all the way through. So I would say that problems in BKK have definitely hurt our restaurants, with the exception of a busy Xmas couple of weeks.

Posted by Business changes on January 21, 2014 08:46

Editor Comment:

Thanks.

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The roads are stopped for the past 4 days because one of the royal family are in town. They are leaving today.

I did not see the Bangkok post article yesterday you mentioned Yingluck has considered quitting. Can you post a link. It would be good news to help move things along.

Posted by jiminkata on January 21, 2014 09:00

Editor Comment:

The Bangkok Post quoted a ''source'' and the line of thinking does not appear to have been pursued.

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My business is affected through these govt office closures, and so might be the workers. I need to get my work permit renewed, and seem to have no options as the PPEO office has been inexplicably closed- apparently on the Chief's personal whim since early last week, and the telephone number is always busy. I will soon be illegally in the country and subject to harassment, fines, overstay fines, arrest, more fines, cash "payments" and even deportation.
I simply cannot leave the business in the hands of uncaring workers to take off for 3 days on 11 hour drives, to and from Penang to get what - a tourist visa? Then I'm working illegally. And now I cannot even procure the papers I need to get a new B visa.
I'm ready to just leave, maybe Suthep can give the employees new jobs. They won't get any severance and I'm certainly not going to pay 50,000 baht to an accountant to get the company closed down legally-as if that could even be done now.

Posted by The Night Mare's Nightmare on January 21, 2014 09:53

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@ ED- But Khao Lak appeared to be buzzing at the weekend so your problem could have more do with increased competition for peoples' time and cash than anything else." my english has to be to bad to understand this.. u are a journalist right? am a Businessman with over 50 employees . if i say my business got a hit from this its has got a hit from this and not becoz sometihng buzzing in a small place called Khao Lak. my kind of business dont even exist there and my kind of business attracs people from every single country in the world.. i do know what am talking about and just to be clear, i write this with all due respect. but as u told me once before " u might have to go aout daytime" i reply , " u might have to go out night time and even better, do some serious business on the island."

Posted by frog on January 21, 2014 15:19

Editor Comment:

I'll leave the ''serious business'' to you, frog. But your knowledge does not appear to extend anywhere beyond your business. Have your prices gone up in seven years? Do your customers tell you why they are not coming? Time for a survey, surely, not blaming events that should affect Khao Lak as much as your business.

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yea, besservisser as always.. anyway. uarguing with u is like piss in a can and drink it.. just taste no good. what do u really mean by Have your prices gone up in seven years?" should they not? u change subject like a politician ... u seriously try to blame the lack of customers/tourists on the prices now? ok. be it.. its not because the riots.. the riots not affect anything , clearly thats why they do rioting. have a nice day. in ur blue glasses...

Posted by Frog on January 21, 2014 17:52

Editor Comment:

Better to not see ''riots'' unless there are actually ''riots.''


Wednesday September 22, 2021
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