Thailand's main international and domestic airports in Bangkok have officially reopened - the first step in the recovery of the country's tourism industry. Political protests had closed the runways for eight days, stranding hundreds of thousands of people.
The ceremonies marked a first step toward recovery for the tourism industry after eight days of protests by the anti-government People's Alliance for Democracy closed Bangkok's airports.
Court ban led to end of siege at airports
The siege ended Wednesday after a court banned Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat and his party from politics because of election law violations.
The protests stranded more than 300,000 travelers.
Tourism accounts for about six percent of the country's economy, and in 2007 14 million people visited. Officials warn that could be cut by half next year, in part because of the protests.
New ad campaign hopes to revive tourism
Santichai Euachongprasit, a marketing executive for the Tourism Authority of Thailand, says a new advertising campaign will start soon.
"A public relations [campaign], a strong message that we can take to the world that our situation is coming back to real normal and this is going to make the public have confidence in coming back to Thailand," said Santichai.
Somsong Sachaphimukh, is the general manager of the travel agent, S.S. Group. She is confident that European travelers will be among the first to return to Thailand.
"I can say that 80 percent will come back to Thailand because of the hospitality they have received from the Thai [people]. Thai Airways and the TAT they joined hands to really help the tourists," she said.