Thailand Prepares for Influx of Tourists
The Airports of Thailand (AoT), which is responsible for overseeing Thailand’s public airports, recently outlined new plans for the expansion of Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport.
Mr Prasong Poonteneat, AoT chairman, told the Bangkok Post newspaper that the company intends to focus its available budget on investments for the future. “AoT will use its own budget to invest in all projects with no need for loans,” he was quoted as saying.
Suvarnabhumi Airport is the main entry point for overseas visitors travelling to the Kingdom. The core plan is to expand the airport by constructing a second terminal as well as adding other new facilities. The expansion would allow the airport to accommodate an additional 20 million passengers per year and the project is estimated to cost a total of THB61.6 billion (US$1.9 billion).
Set to begin in 2015, the project is still awaiting cabinet approval but current estimates place the finishing date of airport expansion some time in 2019. In the same period, there are also plans in the pipeline to upgrade Bangkok’s low cost airport, Don Mueang, as well as Phuket airport, which is set for completion next year.
In the first half of this fiscal year (April – September), AoT welcomed 87.5 million passengers through the six airport gateways under its management. While Suvarnabhumi recorded arrivals of 46.5 million passengers, an 8.6 percent drop on the same period last year, Don Mueang Airport recorded a rise in arrivals by 24.3 percent to 19.3 million.
Phuket Airport created a new record by welcoming 11.27 million travellers, an increase of 2.7 percent compared to the same period last year. The rise in passengers arriving in Phuket demonstrates the enduring popularity of the tropical island as a popular holiday destination, for both domestic and international travellers.
According to figures released by the AoT, the increase in the number of air passengers across Thailand was due to a rise in domestic travel as opposed to international arrivals. Overall, domestic travel rose by 14 percent, while the number of overseas travellers marked a slight drop of 5.6 percent.
In addition to outlining the AoT’s new plans, the AoT chairman also urged the board to consider more incentives to attract overseas visitors to the Land of Smiles.
by MAX VEE