Concerns for Thailand’s economy after the nation declares martial law.

Military take control of the streets of Bangkok. Photo: Reuters, SMH.

Military take control of the streets of Bangkok. Photo: Reuters, SMH.

Thailand is under martial law as of early yesterday morning and there are fears the economy and its people could suffer as a result. The military has ordered lobbyists from opposing parties to stop their protests, in what it claims is an attempt to return order to the country after six months of unrest and violence.

Despite Thailand’s history of violence and political upheaval, its economy has remained relatively unharmed. However, this week the Wall Street Journal reports, “… the economy shrank 0.6% on-year in the first quarter and by 2.1% from the final quarter of 2013.”

University of Wollongong Associate Professor of Economics Ed Wilson said the main industries that could experience economic loss as a result of martial law being introduced are the tourism and hospitality industries, as well as services available in regional areas of the country.

Professor Wilson said the tourism industry could be affected in one of two ways as a result of the military takeover.

“There’s two arguments – the uncertainty and civil unrest will reduce tourist numbers, or the military taking over will add some stability to the country, which has been unstable for quite some time, and this won’t have a big effect on tourism,” he said.

One of the most recent cases of violence and political unrest were the anti-government protests in 2010. These protests brought Bangkok to a halt for three months, before an army crackdown resulted in multiple deaths. Despite this kind of history, Professor Wilson said tourism numbers haven’t been dramatically affected.

“The economy has remained remarkably resilient. The strength of the economy is more determined by agricultural production and manufacturing,” he said.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Pongsak Kanittanon doubts the martial law will impact Thailand’s economy.

“It has only been introduced for a short period of time,” he said. “Because of the corrupted government that we have, the current government has refused to resign. That’s why there’s a few protests on the streets of Bangkok,” he said.

Mr Kanittanon does not think the economy will suffer a massive dive in tourism numbers.

“They’ve declared martial law because they’d like to control the situation on Bangkok mainly. I think it’ll make it safer. They haven’t introduced in any curfew so people can do whatever they want to do,” he said.

University of Wollongong student, Nicole Lambert is heading to Thailand in July nd does not expect the introduction of martial law will disrupt her plans.

“It’s scares me a little, but I’ll probably still go,” she said.

Multimedia Reporter: Yasmin Blundell   

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Multimedia Reporter: Nina Ferguson

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