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Thai junta lifts curfew at key beach resorts

By: The Associated Press
June 3, 2014 Updated: June 3, 2014 at 6:30 am
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BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand's military junta lifted a curfew Tuesday at three popular beach resorts but said the restriction imposed after its May 22 coup would stay in place for the rest of the country, including the capital, Bangkok.

In a televised announcement, the junta said it was ending the curfew in Phuket, Koh Samui and Pattaya "to promote tourism and to relieve the impact from the curfew in areas that are peaceful and free from political protests."

The curfew was initially introduced nationwide from 10 p.m. until 5 a.m., drawing complaints from the country's vital tourism industry, which accounts for about 7 percent of Thailand's economy.

Last week, the junta eased the nationwide curfew to midnight until 4 a.m.

Tuesday's announcement said the restriction would stay in effect for the rest of the country "until further notice."

Thailand's tourism industry has been resilient despite nearly a decade of political turbulence, with a record 26.7 million visitors last year. But tour operators, restaurant owners and hotels have complained that the combination of coup plus curfew was leading to excessive cancellations.

More than 50 countries have issued travel alerts, advising citizens to steer clear of protests in Bangkok. But many tourists have tweeted pictures from the country's resorts showing peaceful, unaffected beach paradises.

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