By Ian Neubauer
Foreign visitors to Thailand will receive limited travel insurance at no cost as part of an aggressive plan to repair the county’s reputation as a preferred destination for leisure and business tourism.
Thailand’s vibrant tourism industry suffered its biggest blow to date earlier this month when anti-government protestors clashed with soldiers in the heart of Bangkok and a state of emergency was declared.
Scores of private travellers and groups cancelled or postponed trips to Thailand as a result of the political unrest, devastating the receipts of tourism operators, accommodation properties and the myriad of small industries that co-depend on tourism.
The free travel insurance plan will kick off on May 1 and run for six months. It will provide up to $14,000 cover to approximately five million foreign visitors in the event they are involved in accidents and travel delays caused by political unrest.
“Although we believe there will be no more unrest in the country, we must have an insurance system since foreign travel agencies no longer guarantee the safety of tourists here,” Thailand’s Deputy Finance Minister, Pradit Phataraprasit, told the Bangkok Post.
“As a result, the government has to find an insurance company to cover foreign tourists.”
In addition to the insurance scheme, the Thai Government has set up a microsite listing up to date information and consumer feedback.
Other measures, including the search for an international PR agency to help repair the country’s media image, are also in the pipeline.