BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha is ready to consider lifting martial law in some parts of the country to help boost a struggling tourism sector and economy, a deputy prime minister said on Thursday.
Thailand’s army imposed martial law nationwide in May, days before it took power in a coup that it said was necessary to end months of at times violent street protests aimed at ousting Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
Tourism operators have repeatedly urged the government to scrap the law to restore the country’s image as a trouble-free holiday destination and bolster tourist arrivals which dropped seven per cent in September from a year earlier.
The tourism sector, which accounts for nearly 10 per cent of the economy, suffered its biggest fall in June, a month after the military took power.
Prayuth last month dismissed calls by tourism operators to lift martial law, citing the danger of trouble-makers disrupting his efforts to promote political reconciliation. But Deputy Prime Minister Wisanu Krue-ngam told reporters the prime minister was reassessing his stand.
“The prime minister is ready to consider lifting martial law in some areas of the country,” said Wisanu.
“We might be able to lift the law in some provinces and use other laws instead to control the situation.”
Wisanu did not give a time frame for when the law would be lifted.
“The government will consider this when the time is right … to help the economy and tourism.”