BANGKOK: An explosion rocked the centre of the Thai capital on Monday, raising concerns for tourist and traveller safety in the country.
An explosion in Bangkok's city centre has killed 20 people, including four foreigners. The bomb went off at the Erawan Shrine, a popular tourist attraction situated close to several major hotel chains, Holiday Inn, InterContinental, Renaissance and Grand Hyatt amongst them. Thailand's defence minister has claimed that the bombers 'targeted foreigners... to damage tourism and the economy."
So is it still safe for Brits to travel to Thailand?
Erawan Shrine, Bangkok
Attacks like Monday's are extremely rare in the Thai capital, but many of the city's larger hotels have already reported putting in place more stringent security measures. The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has asked tourists to avoid the area and to remain vigilant in busy parts of the city. Visitors are advised to report any suspicious items or behaviour to police or security personnel straight away.
What does the British Foreign Office advise?
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) website is currently advising British citizens in the region to monitor news reports and to take extra care. Its advice page has long warned of a "high threat" from terrorism in Thailand, saying that attacks have been "indiscriminate, including in places visited by expatriates and foreign travellers."
The FCO has also long restricted travel to the south of the country, where the Thai military have been fighting separatists since the 60s. Its website advised against "all but essential travel to the provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and Songkhla on the Thai-Malaysia border."
I want to cancel my trip, what are my rights?
Unless the FCO advises against all travel to the country, which currently seems extremely unlikely, travel companies are not required to offer a refund on deposits for pre-booked trips. Some firms will offer alternative destinations, whilst others (such as British Airways( offer a 24-hour grace period to amend your travel plans at no extra cost, but they are under no obligation to do so.
The likelihood of foreigners being caught up in a terrorist attack remains extremely unlikely, with more significant threats posed by road accidents and accidents in the water. Visitors in the capital should certainly remain vigilant over the coming weeks and into the peak winter season, but the opportunities offered by a trip to Thailand should not be forgotten when making the decision to travel.
Is this a destination I should consider for the future?
In a word, yes. The country attracts around 900,000 British holidaymakers every year and is a popular destination with backpackers, offering cheap accommodation options and some of the world's most influential cuisine. It attracts avid trekkers with its beautiful mountain ranges, sun lovers with its idyllic beaches and culture vultures with its fascinating temples and religious life.