Nine tour groups comprising 209 people will leave Hong Kong for Bangkok today after the Travel Industry Council said tourist areas in the Thai capital were safe despite recent protests. The resumption of tours after a suspension since March 11 comes despite the government imposing a red outbound travel alert on Bangkok on March 10. A red alert means people in Hong Kong planning to travel there should adjust their plans while those already there should avoid protests and large crowds or gatherings of people. A spokesman for the Security Bureau said the red alert was still in force amid concerns for the safety of travellers there although the decision to travel or not lay with the individual. The council's executive director, Joseph Tung Yao-chung, said after meeting major tour operators yesterday that its ban on package tours was lifted after liaising with Thai tourism authorities and reviewing the situation in Bangkok. Tung said it was felt that areas in Bangkok frequented by tourists were far away from and not really affected by the mass anti-government protests in Bangkok. The council also considered the desire of many travellers to visit the city on tours as soon as possible, Tung said. Standard travel insurance policies normally provide coverage in such instances although each policy has specific terms and conditions, Tung said. Itineraries will be changed if any planned visits are affected by protests. Tour guides will update the latest situation of their tour groups to their travel agents daily. The council will keep in close contact with the Security Bureau and travel agents on developments in Bangkok. The Thai government imposed the Internal Security Act between March 11 and yesterday in an attempt to quell 'Red Shirts' protesters rallying in support of ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra. The tough security law lets authorities deploy troops on the streets during mass anti-government rallies in Bangkok and impose curfews and ban gatherings.