Hong Kong travellers warned to avoid protests as martial law declared in Thailand

Travel alert remains at amber; visitors also advised to stay away from crowds

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 May, 2014, 11:24am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 May, 2014, 11:27am

Hong Kong travellers in Thailand have been reminded to stay away from protests and crowded areas after the country’s army declared martial law in the early hours of Tuesday.

The travel alert for Hongkongers remains at amber – the lowest of the three-level alert system.

The executive director of the Travel Industry Council, Joseph Tung Yao-chung, said that about 500 Hongkongers in more than 20 tour groups are in Thailand at the moment. About seven to eight groups, or 100 people, are expected to depart for the country today. No tour group has been cancelled yet.

“Travellers should avoid going near protest zones, and when they are on their own, don’t go to crowded areas,” Tung said.

Lai Tung-kwok, the secretary for security, said on Tuesday that for now the situation on the ground in Thailand remained normal, and that there is sufficient space on flights between Hong Kong and Bangkok in the event that Hongkongers need to leave the country.

“We will closely monitor the situation, and will release any new information as soon as possible,” the Security Bureau said in a statement, adding that it was not ruling out the possibility of raising the alert.

The bureau said it is in close contact with the Chinese foreign ministry’s office in Hong Kong and the Chinese embassy in Thailand.

Hongkongers in Thailand who need help are advised to contact the Immigration Department at +852 1868 or the Chinese embassy at +66 854833327.

Thailand’s army on Tuesday declared martial law across the country in a bid to restore order following months of protests by pro-government and anti-government demonstrators that have left 28 people dead and hundreds wounded.

An announcement on military-run television said martial law had been invoked “to restore peace and order for people from all sides”, and stressed that the move should not be considered a coup.

The dismissal of former Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra earlier this month in a controversial court ruling has raised tensions in the kingdom, which has endured years of political turmoil.