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Songkhla Tourism Push: Direct Flights from China and Cruise Terminal Development

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The Songkhla Tourism Association is calling on the government to give tourism a significant boost in the province by constructing a state-of-the-art cruise ship terminal and introducing direct flights from various Chinese cities to Hat Yai. According to Songchai Mungprasithichai, the president of the Songkhla Tourism Promotion Association, these enhancements will undoubtedly attract a greater influx of Chinese tourists.

One of the primary requests is for a direct flight route, such as from Kunming to Hat Yai, aimed at simplifying travel for Chinese visitors and consequently amplifying tourist numbers in the province. Additionally, they propose an investment in nautical transport, spotlighting a cruise terminal in the Gulf of Thailand.

“The terminal will not only alleviate the road congestion at the Thai-Malaysian border between Sadao district and Bukit Kayu Hitam in Malaysia but will also stimulate tourism in Songkhla and nearby hotspots such as Koh Samui, Krabi, and Phuket,” Mr. Songchai explained. The cruise ships en route to Koh Samui navigate through the Gulf of Thailand, passing by Songkhla. Establishing a cruise terminal in Songkhla would markedly boost its tourism sector, particularly since most cruise passengers are known for their substantial spending capabilities.

Local businesses are looking beyond traditional transportation methods and are keen on attracting a diversified range of international tourists. This initiative aims to safeguard Songkhla, especially Hat Yai, from potential downturns in the tourist sector, which has been experiencing a decline in visitors from Malaysia and Singapore, particularly during the recent rainy seasons, added Mr. Songchai.

Meanwhile, in Phatthalung province, Kwanjai Klabsuksai, owner of the Suan Phai Kwanjai Market in Khuan Khanun district, highlighted that most of her foreign clientele are Malaysians. Her bamboo plantation attracts a minimum of nine buses or ten vans daily, not counting private car visitors.

She noted, “Malaysians constitute the largest foreign visitor group to Phatthalung, accounting for at least 80% of the total, followed by European and Chinese tourists.”

However, Jarun Kaewjeesub, president of the Phatthalung Tourism Association, raised concerns about the ongoing restrictions on foreign-registered vehicles, particularly Malaysian tour buses, from traveling beyond Songkhla due to visa regulations. Despite a petition sent to the government in 2014, allowing Malaysian tour buses to venture into 14 southern provinces, there has been little progress.

The Prime Minister’s Permanent Secretary Office had responded positively to an earlier proposal by the Songkhla authorities, advocating for the approval of Malaysian tour bus travel to 14 southern provinces. However, no regulations were formalized. This effort hit a pause button as Malaysia and Thai authorities are currently in the process of drafting a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to address the issue, Mr. Jarun mentioned.

All these endeavors underline the significant potential for growth and prosperity in Songkhla and Phatthalung provinces. It’s an exciting time for these regions as they strive for an expanded tourist footprint that promises not only economic benefits but also cultural enrichment. Whether it be by sea or air, enhancing accessibility is the key to unlocking and showcasing the hidden gems of these southern Thai provinces to the world. As these regions gear up for a tourism renaissance, they beckon eager travelers to embark on an unforgettable journey through their rich landscapes and vibrant cultures.


  1. Anna W. June 2, 2024

    Introducing direct flights from China sounds like a great idea! It will undoubtedly boost the local economy.

    • travel_junky June 2, 2024

      Absolutely! More Chinese tourists mean more local businesses thriving!

      • Joe June 2, 2024

        But won’t it just make the place overcrowded and put pressure on local resources?

      • Anna W. June 2, 2024

        Good point, Joe. Over-tourism is a valid concern. Hopefully, proper infrastructure planning will mitigate that.

  2. Larry D June 2, 2024

    A cruise terminal in Songkhla is brilliant! The revenue from high-spending cruise tourists could transform the region.

    • grower134 June 2, 2024

      But isn’t cruise tourism harmful to marine environments? We should think long-term sustainability.

      • Karla.T June 2, 2024

        Yes, the environmental impact is concerning. Maybe focus on eco-friendly cruises?

    • Larry D June 2, 2024

      Eco-friendly solutions are certainly essential. Balancing economic growth and sustainability is key.

  3. Linda May June 2, 2024

    Wouldn’t lifting restrictions on Malaysian buses make more sense? They already constitute a large part of the tourists.

    • Sarah H. June 2, 2024

      It does seem sensible. Malaysian tourists are more familiar with local customs too.

    • Linda May June 2, 2024

      Exactly, Sarah! Plus, it’s a proven market. We should tap into that first.

  4. RobertJ June 2, 2024

    Why not invest in both air and sea travel enhancements? Diversifying could balance the tourist influx.

    • Eco_Fan June 3, 2024

      Diversification is good, but what about the environmental costs?

    • RobertJ June 3, 2024

      True, we need to ensure these projects are sustainable. Environmental assessments should be mandatory.

  5. ExplorerDan June 3, 2024

    As someone who loves Thai culture, I hope this doesn’t turn Songkhla into another over-commercialized tourist spot.

  6. Melody S June 3, 2024

    I think it’s a fabulous idea! More tourists mean more cultural exchange and global unity.

  7. Econ_Expert June 3, 2024

    Let’s not forget the economic impact. Tourism can create numerous jobs and uplift the local communities.

    • Vicky June 3, 2024

      Sure, but what about the poor local businesses who might get overshadowed by big tourist chains?

  8. Brian G. June 3, 2024

    Can the local infrastructure handle this influx? Airports and roads need significant upgrades.

  9. MarthaA June 3, 2024

    Songkhla has so much potential. Boosting tourism might finally put it on the map!

  10. Ali June 3, 2024

    How about focusing on sustainable tourism? Promote local experiences and eco-tourism!

  11. Tom H. June 3, 2024

    Direct flights from China are great, but what about COVID protocols? Safety should be a priority.

    • Gail June 3, 2024

      Good point, Tom. We need stringent health measures in place to protect everyone.

  12. Laura June 3, 2024

    A cruise terminal might bring in luxury tourists, but will they inject money into the local economy or stick to their ships?

  13. Sam June 3, 2024

    Opening up to more Chinese tourists is beneficial, but let’s avoid tourist traps and keep it authentic.

  14. Lucy June 3, 2024

    Boosting tourism could bring much needed attention to Songkhla’s beautiful landscapes and rich history.

    • Jake P. June 3, 2024

      As long as we preserve those landscapes. Look at what happened to other over-touristed places.

  15. AsiaTraveller89 June 3, 2024

    Hat Yai could become a major international hub. Direct flights might be just the beginning.

  16. Ravi June 3, 2024

    Malaysian tour buses should be allowed more freedom. It’s silly to have such restrictive regulations.

  17. nature_lover June 3, 2024

    Tourism is fine and all but don’t forget the environment! Protecting nature should be the top priority.

  18. Wendy June 3, 2024

    I’m excited for this! More tourists mean more cultural events and festivals!

    • CulturalAdmirer June 3, 2024

      Indeed, it could inspire more cultural preservation activities too.

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