Thailand Approves New Phuket Airport

Thailand has recently been suffering from over tourism, lead by a large increase of Chinese travellers entering the Kingdom. Last year, Thailand’s Science and Technology Minister, Suvit Maesincee, said that the country’s tourism strategy was ‘more for less’; emphasizing volume instead of value, best demonstrated by the country’s attempts to bring in as many tourists from China as possible.

This was recently demonstrated by Maya Bay, made famous by a movie starring Leo DiCaprio, officially closed its bays for four months starting on the 1st of June, adding to the list of destinations showing the damage that being a tourist destination can to a location. Others include the Philippines’ Boracay, which is only six weeks into its six-month closure, and Thailand’s Koh Tachai, which closed in May of 2016 but has since reopened.

Nevertheless, Thailand continues to be a booming tourist destination, drawing in travellers from across the world for multiple reasons, from its hotel wedding events in Phuket to the night life in Sukhumvit, with the Tourism Authority of Thailand set to support more tourism.

In particular, Phuket International Airport had 3.5 million passengers go through immigration for the first four months of 2018, which, according to data from hospitality consultancy firm, C9 Hotelworks, is a 19% increase from 2017’s value. To meet the increasing demand for beach tourism and hotel wedding events in Phuket, the board of Airports of Thailand has approved the construction of an additional airport in both Phuket and Thailand, with the investment totalling to Bt120 billion.

According to AoT president Nitinai Sirismatthakarn said that the board approved the plans for the airports for the fiscal ears 2019-2023, which each project to be allocated Bt60 billion. Construction on the new airports is expected to begin sometime in 2019, and should be completed before the end of 2025.

Ban Thi in Lamphun has been earmarked as the location for the second Chiang Mai airport, andtambon Khok Kloi in the Takua Thung district in Phangna for thesecond Phuket airport. These two sites are located approximately 20-30km from existing airports, and will accommodate about 10 million passengers annually.

Board Chairman Prasong Phunthanet says that these second airports would accommodate the increasing number of tourists to these destinations, as well as help deal with the overcrowding in existing airports.