Violence shakes Thai tourism
A tourist stands outside the hotel taking snapshots after hundreds of anti-government protesters breached security, pushing back the military at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Pattaya, Thailand -- April 11, 2009
TEXT OF STORY
Steve Chiotakis: Overseas, S&P cut Thailand's local currency rating. They say investor confidence has been hit hard by violent political unrest there. At least two people were killed, hundreds injured. Thailand's economy has already been hit in the fallout from the financial crisis, and now tourists are fleeing the unrest. Here's Marketplace's Jennifer Collins.
Jennifer Collins: Last year, Thailand made more than $15 billion from tourism. Thai authorities say this week's violence could cut that by a third.
Peter Yesawich: I think they're being very conservative.
Peter Yesawich provides marketing services to the travel industry:
Yesawich: When these kinds of situations arise, it's remarkable how quickly the system will shut down, and people who have travel plans are increasingly prone to postpone or cancel those.
About 2 million people work in tourism in Thailand. Southeast Asian expert Rosalind Morris says many are middle-class folks already hit by the global recession.
Still, she says the country knows how to rebound:
Rosalind Morris: Thailand is probably the most efficient country in the world at managing its image.
So when the protests end, she says, Thailand will waste no time in cleaning up and starting a PR campaign to lure travelers back.
I'm Jennifer Collins for Marketplace.