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Tourists free to fly after Thai airport opens up
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More than 70 Shanghai tourists stranded on Thailand's Phuket Island after protesters shut down the airport on Friday are expected to return to the city after the Phuket airport reopened late yesterday.

Local tourism authorities said all tourists are safe.

Protesters with the People's Alliance for Democracy occupied the airport as part of protests against the Thai government.

Tour groups in the Thai capital of Bangkok were largely unaffected by the protest, said the Shanghai Tourism Administrative Commission.

Three international airports in southern Thailand were closed on Friday - Phuket, Hat Yai and Krabi airports. More than 300 Chinese tourists were reported to be stranded on Phuket.

"As the airport reopened, tourists could choose to come back to Shanghai or to go on their trip on the island as scheduled," said Yang Jing, an official with the commission.

The Shanghai Jinjiang International Tour Service Company said they had a tour group of 20 members on the island. The group was expected to return to Shanghai today.

Shanghai tour agencies said they were increasing caution about sending groups to Thailand. Scheduled tours to the country may be canceled, agencies said.

The Spring International Travel Service Company said some of their tour groups had to change their itinerary due to the protest. "We had one group in Bangkok which had intended to go to Phuket yesterday," said Zhang Lei, an official with the company. "But they decided to have a look around Bangkok and come back to Shanghai."

Zhang said the company planned to send another group to Phuket on Wednesday but may cancel the trip.

(Shanghai Daily September 1, 2008)

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