Asian economic pivot, Thailand is gearing up for a boost in its tourist numbers, primarily from China. As revealed by Suriya, the illustrious Thai Transport Minister, comprehensive measures have been set into motion within the appropriate state bureaus, amongst them the Airports of Thailand Public Limited Company (AOT) and the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand. Drawing a robust blueprint for the resurgence of the national aviation and tourism sectors – both pivotal economic driving forces – the move is designed to accommodate the imminent surge of inbound holidaymakers from China.
Facing the immediate reality of increased airway traffic, the minister outlined expansionary policies, described as urgent. These involve widening the window of flight slots by a substantial 15% compared to the summer flight timetable for the upcoming winter season. Winter in Thailand is perceived as a prime season for tourism, successfully luring droves of enthusiastic explorers and adventurers. Suriya anticipates an influx of tourists from China, projecting a breathtaking increase of over 5 million.
This prediction springs from a recently implemented visa-free policy targeted at Chinese tourists drew applause when unveiled at a recent Cabinet meeting. Decided firmly in favor of enabling a “passport-free” travel experience for wanderlust-filled tourists from China and Kazakhstan, the phased lifting of visa prerequisites will come into effect starting from September 25th continuing till February 29th. The anticipated cumulative effect? An attraction of at least 5 million new visitors.
The statistics as of August’s end placed Chinese tourists’ inflow at a rounded 2 million, providing further rationale for the Transport Minister’s optimistic expectations. To tackle the upcoming swell of tourists, Suriya has advised AOT to augment airport capacity under its charge, which includes introducing 24-hour facilities at Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, and Hat Yai airports to alleviate incidences of overcrowding.
Aiming at improving travel infrastructure, AOT has received explicit instructions pending acceleration in the construction of passenger holding areas at pivotal airway hubs, including Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport and province-specific airports in Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, and Phuket. With fresh terminals in the offing, these airports are forecasted to handle a whopping 200 million passengers yearly. Supplementary measures for the ensuing 5-7 years forecast a second airport in tourist favorites: Chiang Mai and Phuket, promising an added handling capacity that could total 50 million passengers per annum.
Suriya, bearing the weight of the Transport Ministry on his shoulders, has cut through red tape to expedite the transfer of provincial airports currently under the management of the Department of Airports, to AOT’s jurisdiction. Notable transferees include airports located in the picturesque Krabi, bustling Udon Thani, and vibrant Buri Ram. With this strategic nod, Suriya seeks to convert this move into an opportunity to improve the overall quality of services while alleviating the state’s financial responsibilities.
Further echoing his progressive stance, the Transport Ministry tentatively embraces the sustainability principle for airport development. Defined by an eco-conscious outlook, it includes energy-cost-cutting steps such as harnessing solar power at airports and electrifying service vehicles housed inside. Other sustainable targets include evaluating and implementing measures that encourage the usage of sustainable aviation fuel. With ambitions of meeting the benchmarks set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, this undertaking revolutionizes standards in airport operations.