Thailand: Tourism Tackles Terrorism


January 8, 2010: Violence is declining in the south, and tourism is bouncing back, with arrivals up 40 percent over last year. The political unrest, the global recession and the swine flu threat have combined to reduce tourism by about a third over the last year. That meant over 60,000 people  lost their jobs, many of them in the violence prone south. Normally, the tourism industry accounts for five percent of GDP, employing two million people, or seven percent of the workforce. More tourism means more jobs, and fewer unemployed Moslem men contemplating terrorist violence.

January 7, 2010: Islamic terrorists planted three bombs in the south, two of them went off, killing one person. The terrorists were protesting the visit of the prime minister to local towns. But the police were alert to the threat, and disrupted several operations meant to embarrass local and national officials. The government announced that the 60,000 additional troops stationed in the south would begin leaving in two years, because the terrorists have been getting weaker and weaker over the last few years. That may be an ambitious schedule, but the Islamic terrorists in the south have lost a lot of local support, and are making fewer attacks.

January 4, 2010: In the south, during the last few days, three soldiers and three civilians were wounded by a roadside bomb, and two other civilians were murdered in a terrorist drive by shooting. These crude bombs and drive by shootings are the main Islamic terrorist activities now.

January 1, 2010: The number of North Korean refugees entering the country last year increased to about a thousand, up from 400 in 2008 (when increased Olympic related security in China made it harder for North Korean refugees to travel through China.) The North Korean refugees travel all the way to Thailand for asylum because Thailand is one of the few nations in the region that will not send refugees back to North Korea (where such escapees face prison camp, and often death.) South Korea accepts nearly all the North Korean refugees in Thailand.

December 28, 2009: Police forcibly sent 4,000 Laotian refugees (mostly Hmong tribesmen) back to Laos. The refugees had claimed to be political refugees (the Hmong have long been a persecuted minority), but the Thai government determined that they were economic refugees. Laos is one of the few communist police states still operating, and much of the population would flee for economic or political reasons. But Thailand doesn't want to host that many foreigners. There's a similar problem with Myanmar, where a non-communist police state continues to fight rebellious tribes along the Thai border.


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