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Despite the recent car bombing at a major hotel in Hat Yai, there have been few travel advisories issued by foreign governments.

The American Embassy in Bangkok has not issued any warning and the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has only updated their Thailand info page to include the Hat Yai Bombing. The US State Department has not updated their site to include the latest Hat Yai bombing.

Central Across Street From Hat Yai Hotel Bombing courtesy Bangkok Post

Central Across Street From Hat Yai Hotel Bombing courtesy Bangkok Post

I guess the only time that the embassies issue serious warnings if the incident is in Bangkok – and way down South in Hat Yai doesn’t count.

Here is what the FCO added regarding Hat Yai:

On 31 March 2012 there were bomb explosions in the southern provinces of Songkhla, Yala and Pattani. A suspected car bomb killed at least four people and injured around 300 at the Lee Gardens Plaza Hotel in Hat Yai, Songkhla province. A further three bomb explosions occurred in Yala’s town centre killing at least nine people and injuring over 100. There was also an explosion outside a shop in Pattani, injuring one person.

Singapore has posted a travel advisory about Hat Yai on their Ministry of Foreign Affairs web site:

Singaporeans are advised to postpone non-essential travel to southern provinces of Thailand

In view of the recent bomb blasts in Yala and in Hat Yai, Singaporeans are advised to postpone non-essential travel to the southern provinces of Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat and Songkhla in Thailand for the time being. Singaporeans with an urgent need to travel to these provinces are advised to monitor local news and developments, take all necessary precautions for their personal safety and purchase comprehensive travel insurance. Singaporeans travelling to these provinces should also eRegister with MFA at http://eregister.mfa.gov.sg to facilitate contact in an emergency. Singaporeans who require consular assistance should contact the Singapore Embassy in Bangkok or the MFA Duty Officer (24-hours) at: Embassy of the Republic of Singapore 129 South Sathorn Road, Bangkok 10120 Tel: 001-66-(81) 844-3580 / 001-66-(2) 286-2111/ 001-66-(81) 8443580 (Duty Officer) Fax: 001-66-(2) 286-6966 Email: singemb_bkk@sgmfa.gov.sg Ministry of Foreign Affairs- MFA Duty Office Tel: 6379 8800, 6379 8855 (24 hours) Fax: 6476-7302 Email: mfa_duty_officer@mfa.gov.sg

Malaysia has posted an “Announcement” on their web site about Hat Yai – which is scrolling on the left-hand side. The Thai Government has come out and stated that Malaysia did not post a travel warning, which may be splitting hairs. I think that the Thai Government is trying to make nice to Malaysia since big bucks for Songkran are riding on this. Malaysian is also holding an Iranian bomb suspect that Thailand is trying to have extradited. You make the call:

BOMBINGS IN SOUTHERN THAILAND Two Malaysian were killed and 27 others injured in a bombing incident that occurred in Lee Garden Hotel, Hatyai at 1300 hours (1400 hours Malaysian time) on 31 March 2012. The deceased have been identified as Mr. Low Thian Hock(46) and Mr. Tan Peng Chan(39). Currently, only 5 of the injured are being treated at Songkhla Nagarind Hospital and Rajyindee Hospital in Hatyai, whereas the other 22 Malaysians have been discharged. The explosion has caused 5 deaths and injured more than 100 others. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is constantly monitoring the situation in Hatyai through the Consulate General of Malaysia in Songkhla. For further enquiries, the 24-hour operations room in Songkhla can be contacted at +6674 311062 or +6674 316 27 or Fax No: +6674 324 004. Malaysians are advised to be extra careful and always be on alert for any future visits to southern Thailand. Malaysians may also consider postponing their immediate plan to visit southern Thailand until the situation improves. For those who still have to make visits to these areas due to some necessities should consult the Consulate General of Malaysia in Songkhla for the latest information and advice. Ministry of Foreign Affairs Putrajaya 3 April 2012

The Tourism Authority of Thailand has actually posted the Hat Yai warning on their TATnews site and on their Thailand Tourism Update site. The Hat Yai info is identical as the Update site is basically just a site with RSS feeds. The sites downplay the bombing:

On Saturday, 31 March 2012, there was an explosion and fire at the Lee Gardens Plaza Hotel in Hat Yai, Songkhla province. It was caused by an explosive device in a vehicle in the car park located under the building and resulted in three fatalities and many injuries.

It was a car bomb in Hat Yai that killed 5 and injured over 300. The rest of the articles go on about how concerned the Tourism Authority of Thailand is, how security will be heightened, and about 1/2 the “update” is an advertisement for Thailand. Our illustrious Deputy Prime Minister, Chalerm, has assured everyone that Khaosan Road and Sukhumvit will be safe for Songkran and that security will also be increased. And, despite the Bombings in Hat Yai, Yala, and Pattani, the Tourism Authority of Thailand is going to beef up its marketing to try to lure people back.

The agency will gear up its marketing campaign to restore tourist confidence after car bombs and blasts last week in Yala and Hat Yai.

A geared up marketing campaign does nothing to restore confidence – especially in Hat Yai.

“We will kick off marketing campaigns immediately to rebuild the tourist image and confidence of this area, especially among Malaysian and Singaporean visitors,” said Mr Surapol.

All about image and big, big MONEY. Nothing about safety other than false promises. Hopefully there will be no additional bombings in Hat Yai especially during Songkran, and hopefully no bombings in areas where lots of tourists will be celebrating.

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