Hong Kong halts all tours to Thailand in wake of coup

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 May, 2014, 10:54pm
UPDATED : Friday, 23 May, 2014, 5:45pm

All group tours from Hong Kong to Thailand will be cancelled from tomorrow in the wake of the coup that triggered a 'red travel alert' in the city, the Travel Industry Council announced today.

A total of 70 groups with 1,300 people would be affected, said Joseph Tung Yao-chung, the council's exective director.

Six of eight groups scheduled to set off today also decided to cancel the trip, he said, while the remaining two had decided to continue their tours to Chiang Mai and Phuket despite the Thai military announcing a coup and imposing a nighttime curferw yesterday.

“The situation in Thailand seems to be quite calm for now, although we heard about the coup,” said Tung.

“Of course we need to follow the information provided to us by the Security Bureau, so travel agencies have decided to cancel all the tours.”

He said the agencies would meet again on Wednesday next week to decide the fate of groups scheduled to set off on May 31 and later.

There are currently 1,200 people in 50 tour groups in Thailand and another 1,200 individual Hong Kong visitors, according to Tung.

The red alert means people intending to visit the country should adjust their travel plans and avoid non-essential travel, including travel for leisure purposes.

For those already in Thailand, the government is urging visitors to exercise caution, attend to personal safety and avoid protests and large gatherings of people.

Tung said last night tha the council had not received any requests for assistance from Hong Kong tourists in Thailand.

Tung said about there were usually about 100 tour groups travelling to Thailand every week at this time of the year.

Hong Thai Travel Services said two tours with 60 people heading to Bangkok on Friday morning have been cancelled, while two other tour groups to Phuket would go ahead.

A spokeswoman for the company said 30 tours with some 800 people currently in Thailand were all safe.

EGL Tours executive director Steve Huen Kwok-chuen said four tours totalling 60 people were in Bangkok and all were safe.

Huen said: “We will ask customers not to go out at night.”

Thai military leaders on Thursday imposed a nationwide curfew from 10pm until 5am, banned gatherings of more than five people and ordered political protesters to return home.

Huen said local tour businesses to Thailand had resumed to about 30 per cent of the same period last year since March when the black travel alert was lifted and replaced by an amber warning.