Thai junta lifts curfew at key beach resorts

Thailand's military junta lifted a curfew on 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 10pm until 5am, drawing complaints from the country's vital tourism industry, which accounts for about 7 per cent of Thailand's economy.

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

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.


The 'Hunger Games' salute

The raised arm, three-finger salute — a symbol of rebellion in The Hunger Games — has caught on in Thailand as a silent gesture of protest against Thailand's new military regime.

The military doesn't like it either and, according to the Bangkok Post, will be watching closely to see if the gesture is used by large groups.

The Post quoted Junta spokesman Colonel Weerachon Sukhondhapatipak, who said authorities were "monitoring the movement" and, if those saluting ignored a warning to stop, "we will have to make an arrest."

Thailand's army seized power on May 22.

In "The Hunger Games" books and films, the salute symbolises rebellion against totalitarian rule.

Dear #HungerGames. We've taken your sign as our own. Our struggle is non-fiction. Thanks. #ThaiCoup #Thailand

— Manik Sethisuwan (@ManikSethisuwan) June 1, 2014

AP, The Washington Post