Jan. 16 - Bangkok protests dragging into a third month hits tourism industry, with December's arrivals not as high as expected. Michaela Cabrera reports.
Thailand's precious tourist industry is starting to reel from the impact of political unrest. The country's Hotels Association said the number of tourists in Bangkok has fallen. Arrivals in December were up 6.7 percent from last year, but usually the growth is double-digit. A French tourist on holiday with his wife said the blockades were a nuisance. (SOUNDBITE) (French) FRENCH NATIONAL FROM NICE, MR. SALERIO, SAYING: "We just arrived, we arrived from the airport, and the taxi driver dropped us 500 meters away from here because we are going to this hotel right here, at the Arnoma. Yes it is a little annoying after a flight that the taxi drops us over there." Other tourists were not perturbed. (SOUNDBITE) (English) NORTHERN IRELAND RESIDENT, CHRIS SAYING: "We find everyone very friendly and very nice so we have not had any bother at all, we've walked through it (protest camp) every single day and night as well, no one's bothered us." Lines of tents pitched in front of five-star hotels have been seen before, and the Thai economy has proven resilient to unrest. During protests that turned violent in 2010, the economy still posted 7.8 percent growth, and the tourism sector grew by 12 percent. But this time, the protests are dragging into a third month, with no end in sight.