Thai Tourism to Lose $2.9bn from Riots: PM

BANGKOK ~ Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said tourism income was likely to fall by more than 102 billion baht (US$2.91 billion) after deadly anti-government protests in April.

The same riots sparked losses of 220 million baht in damage to public property and loss of state income, according to the National Economic and Social Development Board (NSDB), the cabinet said in a statement.

Supporters of fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra forced the closure of an Asian summit in Thailand on April 11, before taking to the streets of Bangkok where a state of emergency was declared for almost two weeks.

Street battles between protesters and soldiers left two dead and 123 people injured.

“Income from tourism this year is expected to fall by around 102.39 billion baht compared to 2008 due to the incidents in April, according to the NSDB,” said Abhisit following the cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

“The number of foreign tourists in 2009 is also expected to drop by 877,474 people compared to last year,” he added.

State services including public transport and road tolls received less revenue while electricity and telecommunications pylons were also damaged by the protests, the cabinet revealed in a statement.

Last week the government forecast 3.2 million fewer visitors to Thailand as a result of the unrest. Thailand last year recorded 14.1 million foreign visitors into the kingdom.

Rival protest campaigns have wracked Thailand for months, with opponents of Thaksin protesting late last year before a court toppled his allies from government, paving the way for Abhisit’s Democrats to take power.

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