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Violence mars Bangkok elections but tourism chiefs say it

Defiant: Supporters of anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban demonstrate on a main road next to Victory Monument in central Bangkok todayThe protestors used batons and metal bars to attack government supporters as they tried to block the delivery of ballot boxes in Bangkok and southern Thailand.

Thailand’s Election Commission said that six million people were unable to vote as a result of the blockades but that 89 per cent of polling stations operated normally.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is expected to win the election but by-elections in the disrupted areas will now have to be held and the opposition leader is expected to make a legal challenge when the result is announced, which could create political limbo in the country.

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) called the situation ‘unpredictable’ and warned tourists to stay inside their hotels if they were in any doubt about their safety yesterday.

Visitors were also warned to avoid all protests, political gatherings, demonstrations and marches and to allow extra time when travelling to the airport, as delays were expected.

Popular: Most tourist attractions in Bangkok - including the Temple of the Emerald Buddha - remain open

But TAT said that yesterday’s election was ‘largely peaceful’ and caused ‘little disruption to local life’. A statement on the TAT blog said: ‘It's still business as usual in the capital. Our travel advice has not changed. Bangkok and the rest of Thailand is ready to welcome tourists as normal.’

TAT also claimed that the 60-day State of Emergency in Bangkok, which was announced by the Thai Government on January 21, had had no ‘obvious impact’ on the city and ‘no freedom of movement restrictions or night time curfews have been imposed’.

Popular: Most tourist attractions in Bangkok - including the Temple of the Emerald Buddha - remain open‘The city of Bangkok continues to run at a near normal level with most businesses and tourist attractions open for business as usual, ready to welcome visitors' the organisation claimed.

TAT advised any worried tourists who have questions about an imminent holiday to Bangkok to contact its London office on 0207 925 2511 or to email info@tourismthailand.co.uk

The Thai authorities have also set up Tourist’s Friend Centres (TFC) to provide information and assistance for tourists, which are open 24 hours a day. There are TFC branches at Suvarnabhumi Airport and Don Mueang Airport, four TFC BTS Skytrain stations (Siam, Phaya Thai, Ekkamai, Wong Wian Yai) and also Hua Lampong MRT station. Visitors can also contact the TFC by telephone on +66 (0)2 314 1212.

Support: Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban collects donations during a march through Bangkok today

Anti-government protests continued today in Bangkok as demonstrators consolidated efforts to topple Ms Shinawatra.

The main protest sites were at the major intersections of Sala Daeng, Asoke, Ratchaprasong, Pathumwan, Victory Monument, Lat Phrao and at the government complex at Chaeng Watthana.

Protesters have shut major intersections in the Silom and Sukhumvit business districts and Ratchaprasong shopping district, where many of the city's malls are located.

Most tourist attractions in and around the capital - such as the Grand Palace, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Vimanmek Mansion and Siam Paragon - remain open.

All areas outside of Bangkok and other tourist destinations within Thailand such as Phuket, Krabi, Samui, Hua Hin, Pattaya and Chiang Mai are not thought to have been affected by the demonstrations.

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