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Narathiwat “still safe for visa runs’



Narathiwat “still safe for visa runs’ | Thaiger

NARATHIWAT: Visa-run businesses are still operating normally to Narathiwat despite the outburst of violence in the South yesterday, which resulted in more than 100 deaths. Those who organize the visa-run services say that foreigners are safe. Kanitha Saelao, Manager of the Patong branch of Royal Silk Travel, which organizes visa trips to Kota Bahru via Narathiwat, told the Gazette that the situation in the three southern provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala has not significantly affected business. “We still have customers who want to get new visas from [the Thai consulate in] Kota Bahru [in Malaysia]. The number has fallen but that is because Thai Airways [THAI] canceled its Phuket-Haad Yai service about a month ago [the Phuket-Narathiwat flights ended considerably earlier] and some customers don’t want to take the eight-to-nine hour bus ride from Phuket to Narathiwat. “I’ve heard that THAI suspended the flights because they were not profitable,” she added. K. Kanitha said she speaks frequently with companies she deals with in the South and “there are no problems”. Foreigners, she pointed out, have never been targets of the violence in the South. Vilai Wongpuvarak, an employee of travel company Business & Leisure 2003, in Narathiwat, confirmed that it was business as usual there. “We still have customers coming every day from Bangkok and Phuket to renew visas in Kota Bahru, even though the bus takes them through Pattani province. No one has called us to ask about [the violence],” she said. Most of yesterday’s killings took place in Pattani, but not in the areas the buses pass through, she stressed. “The things that happened yesterday, resulting in many deaths, were in Pattani but the targets of the attackers were police, army or government officers. Tourists and foreigners were not involved at all. It’s fine to come here by bus; I still see foreigners traveling here,” K. Vilai added.


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