Kongkrit Hiranyakit, chairman of the Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT), said the clashes between Thai and Cambodian troops are making a number of tourists stay away from nearby areas. He expects they will have a long-term impact on Thai tourism as the country may lose the opportunity to be a tourism hub when the Asean Economic Community integration takes place in 2015. "The ongoing clashes can make other Asean member nations turn their attention from Thailand to other countries. Our rivals like Malaysia and Singapore may take this opportunity to promote themselves," he said. Border clashes could mean other neighbouring countries like Laos and Burma may not trust Thailand, and Thai investors may be reluctant to invest in these countries, he added. As for short-term impact, the number of Thai visitors to Cambodia will drop. Also foreign tourists who stop over in Thailand before travelling to Angkor Wat will decrease, with Japanese and Koreans likely stopping over in Vietnam instead. This is tens of thousands of tourists annually, he noted.
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