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Gov't issues Thailand travel warning

Chinese travelers are being warned not to enter Thailand.

The Foreign Ministry and National Tourism Administration of China Monday suggested tourists postpone trips to the country, which has recently been plagued by rioting. They also alerted Chinese travelers already in Thailand to be cautious and stay away from the rioting.

The warning came after Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva declared a state of emergency on Sunday in Bangkok and five nearby provinces.

According to the Chinese Embassy in Bangkok, all Chinese traveling in Thailand are believed to be fine, and the emergency hotline had not yet received any injury reports from Chinese citizens.

The emergency hotline is (0066) 022450088-2222.

"Thailand has had an unstable political situation in the past few years, so we already have a protocol in place for Chinese citizens if the riots escalate," an embassy official surnamed Shi told China Daily.

"We have also been warning the Chinese community not to go to the riot areas," he added.

Chinese tourist agents have been taking cautionary measures to protect travelers in Thailand.

Ma Xing, manager of the Beijing branch of Ctrip.com, China's major online travel service, said its 100-plus tourists in Thailand have not been affected by the riots.

"As the airport and the usual places of interest in Thailand are running normally, our travel itineraries generally don't need to be altered, but places near the riots will be avoided," she said, noting they are keeping close contact with tour guides in Thailand to guarantee the safety of Chinese tourists.

"We will stop sending travelers to Thailand until next Monday," she said.

Zhang Qingzhu, marketing manager of China Comfortable Travel Services in Beijing, also said 200 of its tourists in Thailand have just finished their stay in the seaside resort of Pattaya and will leave for Bangkok with no change in itinerary.

The date for the next travel group from Beijing to Thailand has not yet been decided, and travelers can get refunds if their trips are delayed, Zhang said.

Travel operator China Travel Service also decided not to send tourists to Thailand during the riots.

Chen Shaoyang, a Chinese businessman running the Grand China Princess Hotel and tour service Thai Siri Service Ltd in Bangkok told China Daily on Monday that the livelihoods of Chinese in Thailand has not been threatened.

He said Chinatown in Bangkok has been spared from the riots and Chinese in the city are leading normal lives. However, he noted the political atmosphere in Thailand is rather severe.

"We are hoping the riots end soon," Chen said, adding that his tour business in Bangkok is suffering an 80 percent decline in tourists.

He also suggested the impact of the riots will be limited in the next couple of days as the Water Splashing Festival is underway.

(China Daily April 14, 2009)