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Thailand’s coup to add to tourism woes and bump in selfies

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    Residents stop to take a photograph of themselves at a military checkpoint in central Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, May 20, 2014.AP Photo

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    Passers-by with a soldier near a pro-government rally on the outskirts of BangkokAP Photo

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    A woman poses by an armored car.AP Photo

Tourism in Thailand is expected to take hit as political turmoil continues to rock the Asian nation.

Army chief Gen Prayuth took control of the country Thursday and suspended the constitution, two days after declaring martial law. 

Thailand is one of the world's most visited tourist destinations, with arrivals last year at 26.7 million, up 20 percent from the previous year, according to government statistics.

But according to the Wall Street Journal, the first four months of 2014 has seen a 5 percent drop in visitors, or some 400,000 fewer people than last year. Thursday's coup d'etat is expected to lead to mass cancellations and Thai official are bracing for up to a 12 percent drop in May, the Journal reported.

Despite the instability, one response by people on the streets has been to take "selfies" - where people photograph themselves in front of soldiers and jeeps mounted with machine guns.  

After the declaration of martial law, Bangkok residents stopped and snapped a few photos on their smartphones. Some posed with soldiers, who complied amiably.

Even tourists were getting in on the action, reports the Herald Sun.

The U.S. State Department has issued a travel alert for citizens traveling to Thailand, particularly in the Bangkok area.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand is encouraging tourists to continue with regular holiday activities but cautions travelers flying out of Bangkok to allow for extra time due to increased traffic on city roads. 

Foreigners are also being advised to avoid popular protest sites in Bangkok and its western outskirts.

The six-month political crisis has sapped economic growth. Thailand's army has been behind 11 coups since 1932, most recently in 2006 when Thaksin Shinawatra was ousted.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.