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Red v. Yellow

March 23, 2010

Joshua Kurlantzick in The London Review of Books:

In recent decades, Thailand has been running one of the world’s most successful national marketing campaigns. Building on its reputation for hospitality, beautiful beaches and splendid food, the tourism ministry has created an image of Thailand as an exotic paradise where travellers are ushered from spa to floating market to Buddhist ruin, all beneath a never dimming tropical sun. In 2008, the country had more than 14 million visitors – neighbouring Cambodia had two million – and tourism was the country’s biggest source of foreign exchange. Sleepy islands like Koh Samui and Koh Chang are fishing for tourists where once they fished for sea bass; even the smallest Thai towns seem to have boutique hotels offering wi-fi and fancy coffee.

Now, however, the number of tourists visiting Thailand is beginning to level out and even to drop, perhaps because they have noticed what many Western governments, focused on the situations in Pakistan, Iraq and North Korea, have ignored: Thailand, once known as one of the most stable democracies in Asia, is in political and economic crisis. [More]

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