Thailand Expands Transport Infrastructure
In addition to its geographical advantage, there are several other reasons why Thailand is one of Asia’s most popular tourism hubs. The Kingdom’s extensive transport infrastructure, combined with the country’s natural beauty and warm service culture, has made the Land of Smiles one of the most convenient – and rewarding – destinations to experience in the region.
The Kingdom is well connected to neighbouring Asian countries by air, and long-haul flights connect the capital Bangkok and major tourist hotspots including Phuket to all the main continental destinations across the globe. For tourists travelling within Thailand, an array of domestic flight paths, both low-cost and full service, make exploring all four corners of the Kingdom easier than ever before.
Since Suvarnabhumi became the capital’s main air transport hub, Bangkok’s former main airport Don Muang has stepped into the role of one of Thailand’s busiest airports for domestic flights across the country. According to a recent report by the Bangkok Post, the airport recorded the highest growth in passenger traffic in the Asia Pacific region last year.
According to a report released by the Airports Council International, Don Muang recorded a 30.8 percent rise in passenger footfall over 2014, beating out Abu Dhabi and Chiang Mai airports, which recorded respective increases of 20.2 and 21.4 percent. This rapid growth in numbers is a clear reflection of the growing demand for fast travel between key Thai tourism destinations.
In order to cope with the growing demand for domestic flights in Thailand, Thai Air Asia (TAA) has announced plans to expand its current set of route maps to accommodate more passengers. Santisuk Klongchaiya, TAA’s director of commercial operations, said that TAA intends to fly to all airports across the Kingdom. TAA’s plans to expand their number of flight paths were underscored by the launch of a new daily flight from Bangkok to Buri Ram earlier this month. Other routes recently launched by TAA include connections from Bangkok Don Muang to Nan, Loei and Roi Et.
According to TAA, the new route maps aim to increase inter-regional linkage, as trunk routes between popular destinations are already well served. Indeed, demand for locations such as Phuket and Chiang Mai is so high that landing slots at these smaller regional airports are scarce. TAA currently operates 14 flights daily between Bangkok and Phuket.
Phuket Airport also has its own plans for expansion to accommodate the growing number of visitors to the island. The expansion of the new terminal was allocated a budget of THB6.7 billion (US$206 million), and is scheduled for completion in mid-2016.
“Originally, completion of the project was scheduled for mid-2015, but a number of difficulties faced by contractors has caused the project to be pushed back,” explained Prathuang Sornkham, director of the airport.
“The number of visitors to Phuket is growing fast, largely due to the increasing popularity of its resorts and its reputation as a global tourist destination,” he continued. “Passenger numbers are expected to soar to 12.5 million by the end of this year, well over the 6.5-million-a-year capacity the airport was built to handle.”
For visitors who prefer not to hop on board a domestic flight to reach their final holiday destinations, Thailand is eyeing up the possibility of building high speed railway links between Bangkok and the country’s southern holiday hotspots. On a recent visit to Japan, Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha commented that he would like to see railway links in the Kingdom based on Japan’s speedy bullet trains.
“I would like to see it happen for tourist destinations like Pattaya and Hua Hn using funding from the state and private sector,” Chan-Ocha was reported to have said to Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe.
Construction of the new rail project, which will be carried out jointly with China, is scheduled to begin in September.
by MAX VEE