For most of us, the Year of the Horse has cantered past with unseemly speed but for the tourism industry, and especially Thai tourism, it's barely gathered enough steam to merit a trot. Much of that, of course, can be blamed on the political uprisings in Bangkok and upcountry earlier in the year and the subsequent coup and imposition of martial law. And while life goes on much as usual for the majority of those living in the Land of Smiles, tourists are still staying away.
Our capital city also appears to be losing its charm and magic. Bangkok had championed Travel + Leisure's World Best Cities for three consecutive years since 2011 but failed to make it into the Top 10 Best Cities in the magazine's latest survey.
Proof of that demise lies in the numbers of international tourist arrivals to Thailand in 2014.
East Asian tourists - who are "hypersensitive" to the situation - have avoided visiting Thailand this year. That means we missed more than 580,000 Chinese tourists, 246,000 Japanese and 150,000 from South Korea - and we still have another week to go.
In an attempt to woo more Chinese tourists and reverse the slump, the military junta waived visa fees for Chinese and Taiwanese from August to October. It helped but not to the extent the authorities had hoped.
European tourists, however, are more adventurous than Asian folk. While many Chinese and Koreans changed their plans to visit Thailand due to the political situation, the Europeans continued to arrive. Admittedly most of them were young travellers and backpackers rather than the big spenders. They don't care much about demonstrations or martial law provided the sun is shining, the sea is blue, there's plenty of cheap beer at the ubiquitous 7-Elevens and lots of inexpensive pad thai and other Thai dishes on the streets.
Like Thai tourists, they were surprised when the junta ordered a "beach clean-up" along the coast from Hua Hin in Prachuab Khiri Khan to Patong in Phuket. "Trespassers" - meaning everyone from masseurs to those renting out daybeds and umbrellas - were removed, giving the public beaches back to the people.
Es ist jedesmal das gleiche Schoenreden und die gleichen Ausreden!
Egal ob Militaerjunta oder Democrazy Regierung,
die Qualitaetstouristen wollen eine halbwegs zuverlaessige Polizei,
eine halbwegs ertragbare Umwelt und moeglichst wenig Betrug
Dies hat Thailand frueher geboten und bietet es seit Jahren
schon nicht mehr.
Was nuetzen die schoensten 5* und 6* Anlagen wenn sie
im Muell stehen voll zugelaermt werden und die Touris sich
nicht aus der Anlage trauen?
Da koennen sie ja gleich nach Kenya oder Aegypten!
Dort gibt es wenigstens eine gute private Security der Anlagen.
Solange man sich hier die Taschen vollluegt wirds nix
mit dem Qualitaetstourismus!
Die Backpacker kommen immer, denn die bekommen hier
Abenteuer Urlaub zu billigsten Preisen in relativ sicherer
Umgebung (trotz Koh Tao) wenn man sich an die
Aber die Leute die fuer ihr gutes Geld auch eine
entsprechende Umwelt erwarten werden hier dauerhaft