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Thais, expats and tourists slam “inaccurate” and “misleading” BBC video on Thailand

Following a backlash from netizens, the BBC has removed a video about Thailand from its BBC News Facebook page

Netizens criticised the video that inaccurately claimed foreigners would not be able to enjoy many of the tourist activities for which the country has become famous.

thailand-can-be-funThe video titled “Off to Thailand? It won’t be what you expect”, aimed to give foreign tourists advise on how to behave and information on the current situation in the country following the death last Thursday of HM the King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

However, people commenting online were quick to point out much of the information in the video was incorrect and could actually put people off from visiting the country.

The video, which was uploaded originally uploaded to the BBC Three Facebook page on October 14 and then shared to the BBC News Facebook page in order to reach a wider audience, had been viewed more than 2.3 million times.

However, late on Monday night and without explanation, the post was deleted from the BBC News Facebook page, although at the time of posting this update, the video can still be viewed on the BBC Three Facebook page, (which is shown below) and on the BBC Three website.

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The video begins amidst a backdrop of young tourists at the Full Moon Party and other revelers at what looks to be Khaosan Road, the video begins by saying:

“Thailand can be fun”

“But if you’re about to go”

“It might not be what you were expecting”

It then goes onto say that a “night out might be tricky” due to the official mourning period and that there is “restricted access to bars, restaurants and shopping” and that “booze will be hard to buy”.

The video even says that foreigners “won’t be allowed to watch foreign channels” on TV.

Commenting in response to the video, Thais, foreign tourists and expats criticised the BBC for the misleading portrayal of how foreigners visiting the country may be affected during the official mourning period for HM the King.

Nitiphan Saengsila, whose comment received more than 5,830 Likes, but which has now been removed, took the BBC to task over the video.

“Here I just want to point out the misleading content and clarify what really has been done right now. First, a YEAR of mourning in the news applies physically only to some certain groups of people. The government asked all of govt officials and state enterprises officers to wear black/white for one year. While the rest of people is advised to wear black, white, grey or some dark-toned clothes in public as long as they wish. It’s up to their consideration”, Nitiphan wrote.

While Pae Kaewlaiad was quick to point out that foreigners could still watch foreign TV channels such as HBO, without any problems.

Expat Pete Bolton asked simply: “Can’t the BBC get anything right?”

The comments to the original video on the BBC Three Facebook page, which is still online, are just as critical.

A Facebook user by the name of Scotty Dixon writes:  This video is blowing it way out of proportion. I’m in Bangkok now and tourists don’t have to wear black at all. All that’s expected is respect for their grieving. The tourist authority of thailand issued this yesterday and it’s largely up to each venue as to what hours they keep etc. Businesses, including bars, are still open: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/breakingnews/TAT-issues-advice-for-foreign-tourists-30297708.html…Stop being overly dramatic BBC”

While another user, Lalita Love, wrote: This video is a little insulting, in my opinion as a Thai person. The lack of factuality is just treading on disrespectful there, BBC Three

Expat Stephen Morris wrote: Looks like the BBC is mixing fact with fiction again. The bars and nightclubs are only closed for three days over this weekend, only public officials are required to wear black for a year, yes the country is sad they have just lost their beloved monarch and why would any foreigner want to come here with the intention of insulting the monarchy. Don’t be put off by BBC lies and do your own research. For a normal tourist who wants to come to Thailand and have a lovely holiday nothing has changed. I’m English and Iive in Thailand.

The criticism comes after Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement “deploring” the foreign media for its news coverage following the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

How does the official mourning period affect foreign tourists and expats?

If you are planning to visit Thailand anytime soon or have perhaps just arrived and are worried that you holiday may not be able to enjoy your holiday as much as you had hoped, the current situation should actually have minimal impact on foreigners.

While some major events have been cancelled, lots of others are still scheduled to go ahead.

Most tourist sites and attractions remain open.

The beaches are open and shopping malls and public services are running as normal.

Even Thailand’s popular entertainment venues and bars on Monday were told they can re-open, although they will be cutting back on loud music for the next month or so, they will still be open all the same.

And you can buy alcohol.

In fact, there have never been any restrictions on the sale of alcohol during this period, aside from those already in place (alcohol can only be bought in Thailand between 11:00-14:00 and 17:00-24:00). Some retailers chose not to sell alcohol out of respect for the King, but have said they will resume sales by Tuesday Oct 18.

You can also now watch most foreign TV channels after they were taken off air and replaced with a state broadcast for 24 hours after the death of HM the King was announced.

In brief – what you can and can’t do

– You can buy alcohol
– Beaches, shopping malls, tourist attractions are open as normal
– Bars and entertainment venues are open, but a little softer than normal for the next month
– Some events have been cancelled, but many others are going ahead as planned
– You can still watch foreign TV
– You don’t have to wear black clothes, but Thai people might appreciate if you did
– Private parties are allowed, but you should consider cutting back on loud music or entertainment

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