Thailand never used to have an image problem. Put to one side the occasional negative story about sex tourism and heroin-trafficking and the country has been successfully marketed as the idealised Oriental paradise: exotic, beautiful, warm, welcoming and unthreatening.
But lately things have gone wrong. In November, political protesters occupied and closed Bangkok airport, turning Thailand from the “land of smiles” of tourist brochures into a vale of tears for stranded holidaymakers. International human rights groups are criticising the country for its treatment of refugees and for its use of lèse-majesté laws to harass and imprison critics of the Thai monarchy. And now, to top it all, there is an economic crisis.