Thailand’s Coup is Killing Tourists
Who Changed Their Travel Plans
The recent coup in Thailand, subsequent military curfews, government travel advisories and media coverage has prompted many business and leisure travellers to cancel or change their planned travel to Thailand. Unnecessarily so for many. However, the sudden, impulsive or unplanned change of travel for many tourists to alternate locations within Asia has resulted in many more becoming ill, injured or killed. Far more than what is considered ‘usual’ at this time of year and disproportionately higher than any tourist/s who actually made the trip to Thailand, ironically.
Bangkok’s airport is noticeably quieter than usual, the airport trains devoid of lots of foreigners, major shopping centres less densely occupied by tourists and popular nightspots around the city almost deserted by Bangkok nightlife standards. Bangkok is certainly the most obvious but many other parts of the country are significantly less frequented by tourists at present due to all the media, discussion and attention resulting from the coup and so on. Paradoxically, it has proven a boon for those that have made the journey as there are plenty of discount sales, greater choice, easier commute and desperate competition for the significantly reduced tourist volume, spoiling tourists with cheaper alternatives.
Tourist and leisure travellers that have changed their travel to alternate destinations such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, etc have done so primarily based on the news and comparative price shopping for a ‘cheap’ holiday in Asia. The problem is, they have little to no idea of the risks involved in doing so, nor the changed environment in which they are now part of or the ‘different’ things that will get them sick, injured or killed. Bangkok or the rest of Thailand is far from risk free, however it is for many far less risky than even routine activities in many other neighbouring countries. Regardless of the recent coup also.
An observation by the Medical Director at one of Bangkok’s leading medical facilities noted that his team have been busier than usual due to the coup, receiving, treating and managing critical patients that have been flown into Bangkok as the result of illness or injury incurred in other regional tourist destinations. It has also caused complexities for travel insurance providers and policy holders during such incidents. Bangkok is still a centre for medical excellence for the Asia Pacific Region for many priority and routine conditions.
Motor vehicle accidents, drunken misadventures, safety failures, food and water contaminations, vector borne diseases, crime and other similar incidents are affecting a greater number of tourists originally booked to go to Thailand, than all the tourists that have incurred injury, illness or death in Thailand in recent months.
Do these leisure travellers now have grounds for legal action or recourse with their travel agent who encourage or advised them to change their booking? Are travel insurance providers under scrutiny for guaranteeing coverage for alternate locations, only to implement restrictions in the event of injury or illness? Are travel assistance companies able to make timely and decisive decisions to save the lives of the critically injured or are these less developed destinations and networks causing functional and bureaucratic delays, that is killing patients who are waiting for treatment?
For the most part, Bangkok and Thailand have been far less affected by the coup and additional military intervention than reported. Foreigner’s, tourist and business travellers for the most part have not been exposed to a far greater risk as a result, if planned, educated, prepared and supported during their journey. Unfortunately, it has meant “out of the frying pan and into the fire” for those that spontaneously changed their plans and have now experienced misadventure or avoidable life threatening events due to poor choices or lack of understanding for the situation.