Visitors in Thailand reported safe, most to continue tours


TAIPEI–More than 1,200 Taiwanese group tourists in Thailand were reported safe, the Tourism Bureau said Saturday, one day after a travel alert for the flood-stricken country had been raised to the highest “red” level.

The bureau said among 61 tour groups currently traveling in Thailand, nine groups of 180 people will return to Taiwan Saturday, while the remaining 52 groups of 1,040 people will continue their itinerary.

“Fortunately, most of the Taiwanese visitors were not in flood-affected areas,” said bureau division deputy director Chen Chiung-hua. “We strongly warn against nonessential trips to Thailand at this time.”

On Oct. 20, Thailand’s government opened 13 floodgates on the city’s northern periphery and channeled the water through Bangkok to drain it out to sea.

The release of the water is expected to submerge part of the capital city, cause power breakdowns and cut off the water supply, resulting in problems with accommodation, transportation, the food supply and public hygiene in the city, according to a statement released by Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Friday.

As a result, Lion Travel Service Co., a major local travel agency, said all its Thailand-bound tours will be suspended before Oct. 25 as a precautionary measure.

However, considering its 33 tour groups of more than 400 Taiwanese tourists currently in Thailand will not necessarily visit Bangkok or might only stay there briefly, the agency said no changes will be made to the rest of their trip.