Be cautious in Thailand, Canadian tourists told
Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs is advising tourists in Thailand to avoid areas of Bangkok where government buildings are located, but stopped short of telling travellers to avoid the country entirely.
Touristsshould be cautious in the wake of a coup in Thailand late Tuesday in which Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was ousted by the military, the department said Wednesday. Martial law has been declared in the country.
Thailand is a popular tourist destination that is visited by more than 100,000Canadians every year.
The coup wasthe country'sfirst in 15 years. It occurred without a single shot being fired while Shinawatra was in New York for the United Nations General Assembly.
Ina travel report for Thailand on its website,Foreign Affairssaid the Thai situation "will remain uncertain for the days ahead, and the potential for violent confrontations exists."
On Tuesday, Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay said the Canadian Embassy in Thailand is following the situationclosely.
"Canada is deeply concerned by these developments. We urge a peaceful solution to this crisis in conformity with the country's constitution," MacKay said.
"Thailand has made marked progress in terms of respect for human rights and the rule of law, and Canada urges all parties to continue to uphold these values. We will continue to monitor events as they unfold."
Nonetheless, some Canadians planning trips to the country said they are worried.
Laura Verdeel, a B.C. resident, said she is worried that her flight may be cancelled or problems may arise when she is in the country for a backpacking trip.
"I'm supposed to go to Thailand for three months," Verdeel said outside the Thai Consulate in Vancouver, clutching her passport and tourist visa.
"I want to be able to get out of there and I don't want to see any tanks on the street when I'm there."
Paul Evans, aspokesmanfor the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, said Canada does about $2.5 billion in trade each year with Thailand.
Evans said Thailand has a long history of military coups. He said the provisional governments that have followed coups have generally been short-lived.
"Is this the end of democracy? I don't think so," he said. "In two years, will we have a democratically elected government in Thailand? I suspect that's likely."
Evans said Canadians have a stake in the future of democracy in Thailand because the country carries much political and economic influence in Asia.
For more information, Canadians planning trips to Thailand can call Foreign Affairs for updated travel information at 1-800-267-6788.