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Myanmar Civil War Unable to Deter Thai Tourists

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The ongoing civil war in Myanmar hasn't deterred enthusiastic Thai gamblers from visiting casinos across the border in Ranong. The southern province is attracting tourists not only for its beaches but also for facilitating the easy journey across the Andaman Sea to gambling venues.

Local tourism businesses have said that there has been a surge in accommodation bookings, particularly during weekends and extended holidays. Thai visitors are drawn to land-based casinos on Koh Son and Koh Khu islands, located near the Thailand-Myanmar border. Despite gambling being illegal in Thailand, where a substantial illegal betting market exists, these offshore casinos are a popular destination.

Related: Thailand Ready to Advance Casino Legalization Discussion

Large Increase in Hotel Bookings

Nit Uiteckkheng, who was once head of the Ranong Tourism Businesses Association, has noted a significant increase in hotel and resort bookings. This increased demand is making it necessary for tourists to consider alternative destinations such as Koh Payam, which is about two hours away by boat. He believes that the rise in tourism is due to the appeal of gambling and the area's natural beauty.

Efforts to Improve Safety for Toursits

In response to the growing number of tourists, Kittipol Roddon, the assistant governor, organized a meeting to establish safety measures for tourist boats. It was decided that boats traveling to Koh Song in Myanmar would be outfitted with essential safety equipment, including life jackets and two-way radios.

Furthermore, measures are in place to ensure the safe repatriation of Thai tourists in case of emergencies in Myanmar, where the military regime is facing increased resistance. For cross-border travel, Thai tourists must obtain Myanmar visas, while Myanmar citizens are allowed entry into Ranong with just border passes.

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