Mild itinerary jitters ahead of King’s cremation

Thai mourners waiting outside the Royal Palace to pay tribute in August

The cremation ceremony for the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, taking place in Bangkok from October 25 to 29, is expected to see business closures and traffic disruption in central Bangkok.

Thai mourners waiting outside the Royal Palace to pay tribute in August

DMC Destination Asia Thailand, for example, notified partners that it will not operate its Royal Palace and City and Temple tours over the period. It added that traffic disruption is expected as it was likely that roads would be closed and crowded with people during the ceremony.

Bob Daniel, manager – product development, individual and group tours at the New South Wales-based Guidepost, said: “We are wary of October 26, as we expect many businesses in Bangkok especially to be closed. We will (try to) avoid Bangkok on this day.”

The agency will be relying on partners in Bangkok to advise on any disruption that may warrant itinerary adjustments, Daniel added.

However, Malinee Nitikaset Sunthorn, director, the Americas division, Tourism Authority of Thailand, stressed: “Thailand will be open to all tourists during the five-day period. There is misconception… that it is compulsory for foreign tourists to wear black during the period. We, Thais, will be wearing black to mourn (but) we don’t think tourist arrivals will be affected.”

Buyers interviewed at last week’s PATA Travel Mart 2017 were also doubtful that travellers will be deterred from visiting, while being mindful about conveying the solemnity of the occasion to clients.

Manila-based Shroff Travel managing director, Arjun P Shroff, said: “We have a small incentive group combining Bangkok and Chiang Mai during this period. We will inform them about the late King’s cremation ceremony and advise them to dress respectfully. Our ground operator partner in Bangkok will know which roads will be closed and how to get to places using alternative roads.”

John Ching, COO of Singapore-based Albatross World, added that the ceremony may even bring tourists with special interests and Thai expatriates living in Singapore to Bangkok.

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