Two months of protests in Bangkok that ended last week with a spree of looting and arson caused up to 6.3 billion dollars in asset damage and lost income, a government official said on Tuesday.
On Wednesday troops dispersed thousands of anti—government protestors from the Ratchaprasong Road neighbourhood, a prime commercial district they had occupied since April 3.
The crackdown prompted hard—line protestors to go on a rampage, destroying at least 28 buildings, three of which will have to be demolished, said Kiat Sittheeamorn, president of the Thailand Trade Representative’s Office.
“At this point the loss should be between 150 to 200 billion baht (4.7 to 6.3 billion dollars) in terms of assets and loss of income to the tourism sector,” Mr. Kiat said.
The protest forced the temporary closure of 15 hotels, 11 shopping malls and 1,200 shops in Ratchaprasong, putting an estimated 14,000 people out of work.
The Central World Department Store, one of South—East Asia’s biggest shopping complexes, was gutted by a fire to the point that it will need to be torn down and rebuilt.
Mr. Kiat said the government will launch marketing campaigns to encourage people to return to the district, previously the capital’s most upmarket commercial zone.
“We are talking about turning it into a walking street every weekend, starting this weekend is possible,” Mr. Kiat said.
While the Ratchaprasong area has returned to a semblance of normalcy, thanks in part to a mass cleanup over the weekend by municipal workers and volunteers, the cabinet on Tuesday decided to extend a midnight—to—4—am curfew in Bangkok until Saturday morning.
“There are still some ripples we have to deal with,” Mr. Kiat said of the city’s security situation. “So without the curfew we can’t operate effectively.” As estimated 85 people died in protest—related violence over the past two months and more than 1,400 were injured. Although the protest has ended, there are fears that urban violence will return as many red shirts remain angry and frustrated.
The protest movement, who were supported politically and financially by fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, started protesting in Bangkok on March 12 to demand new elections.