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240,000 tourists stranded in Thailand
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Thailand's Tourism Minister Weerasak Kowsurat said on Monday that the number of stranded foreign tourists in Thailand have risen to 240,000.

Weerasak is due to hold a foreign press conference at BITEC exhibition hall in Bangkok, which opened on Monday as the international flight check-in for the U-Ta Pao airport although the later is some 200 kilometers from Bangkok.

Weerasak said he would do everything to send news to the world that Thailand is doing its best to send stranded travelers home.

The minister added that he would ask for the special financial package worth 10 billion baht (about 290 million U.S. dollars) to help small and medium-sized operators in the tourism and related industries which have been hard hit by the shutdown of Bangkok airports.

Since the anti-government People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) seized Bangkok's two airports last week, all the domestic and international flights fly-out or land-in Bangkok were forced to stop service.

Last Thursday, Thailand airport authority opened the U-Ta Pao airport, a military air base, as the temporary airport of Bangkok. Since the airport which locates in Chon Buri Province has some three hours driving distance from Bangkok, all the passengers were advised to check-in seven hours before the bounding time.

(Xinhua News Agency December 1, 2008)

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