BANGKOK (AFP) ― Thailand announced Tuesday the end of a nearly two-month-old state of emergency in Bangkok and surrounding areas, hoping to lure back foreign visitors following an easing of deadly political protests.
The use of emergency rule dealt a blow to Thailand’s key tourism industry during what is usually peak season, and also raised fears of a drop in foreign investment.
The state of emergency will be replaced by another special law, the Internal Security Act, going into effect from Wednesday until April 30, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s office announced.
“We’re confident that we can handle the situation so the cabinet agreed to revoke the state of emergency as requested by many parties,” Yingluck told reporters.
“The cancellation is to build confidence in the economy and the tourism sector,” she said.
Thailand’s international tourist arrivals were down roughly 8 percent last month from a year earlier, with Bangkok’s airports seeing a drop of more than 18 percent in total, according to official figures.
Yingluck has faced more than four months of political protests aimed at ousting her elected government and installing an unelected “people’s council” to oversee reforms.
The state of emergency was introduced in the run-up to a Feb. 2 general election called by the premier in an unsuccessful attempt to calm the crisis.
Political bloodshed, often targeting protesters, has left 23 people dead and hundreds wounded in recent months, including in grenade attacks and shootings.
However, attendance at the demonstrations has fallen sharply in recent weeks, while the introduction of emergency rule failed to prevent protesters from disrupting the February election.
The demonstrators late last month moved to scale back their rallies, consolidating at one site in Bangkok’s Lumpini Park as they ended their so-called “Bangkok shutdown,” which had seen them occupy key road intersections in the city.