At around 7pm on Monday evening the residents of Bangkok were thrown back into a sadly all to familiar ‘state of emergency’ mindset as a pipe bomb exploded at the famous Erawan Hindu shrine in the heart of Bangkok’s shopping district at the Ratchaprasong intersection. The explosion caused over 20 deaths and saw over 120 people hospitalised. It has been dubbed as one of the most destructive attacks on Thai soil in recent memory.
The day after saw another scare at another popular tourist spot when somebody lobbed a grenade from the bridge above the Sathorn pier at Saphan Taksin on the Chaopraya River. It is this pier that tourists will often be queuing in their hundreds to board boat shuttle boats taking them to hotels and tourist attractions like Bangkok’s Asiatique outside lifestyle market. With the city on edge, there were several false alarms reported when suspicious packages were found around the city. Some areas were temporarily sectioned off while the bomb squads came in to investigate and declare the area safe once more.
Over the past ten years, Bangkok has seen several coups, floods, political marches, road closures, city closures, burning down of shopping malls and now this tragic event. Given that, one’s heart has to go out to the people trying to run their businesses in the city, especially in zones like the Ratchaprasong intersection that seem to have been given the lion’s share of the ‘brunt’ from both natural and man made disasters.
Despite the political instability that Thailand has been experiencing over the past several years, the tourism sector has shown surprising resilience, with visitor numbers up by over 1 million when compared to this time last year. During an address on Tuesday, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha on stated that he believed that this attack intentionally set out to spook tourists in an attempt to sabotage the economy and trust in the government.
Since the blast, there have been theories going back and forth both between Thais in Thai online discussion groups, along with foreigners and even local groups across Asia – especially in China, Singapore, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Indonesia and Taiwan. All seem to have their own theories as to who was responsible for the terrorist act and some are demanding that more warnings be given and security precautions taken to protect their citizens when travelling abroad.
Hotelintel.co spoke with several hotel executives across Bangkok in the two days after the explosion. While some are reporting 10-20 cancellations, some other properties have received between 250 – 300 cancellations per evening.
As long as there are no more incidents over the coming weeks, it is expected that Thailand’s tourism industry will have an opportunity to show the world how resilient it is once again as tourist numbers bounce back and occupancy rates return to normal.