Thailand urged to upgrade regional airports to boost tourism

Image courtesy of Khon Kaen Airport

The Airlines Association of Thailand (AAT) called upon the government to upgrade more regional airports to international status, aiming to boost tourism and generate more revenue for Thaniland’s 55 second-tier cities.

At the Ignite Tourism Thailand event, chaired by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, AAT President Puttipong Prasarttong-Osoth highlighted the need for developing regional airport facilities to handle international flights. This strategy is expected to draw tourists to nearby provinces, enhancing their tourism prospects.

Puttipong proposed that the government include airfare expenses to second-tier cities in the recent tax deduction measures to help offset travel costs, a proposal which the PM has agreed to consider. Drawing upon the tendency of tourists to book flights last minute, Puttipong also urged the government to consider visa-free policies.

“Airlines also want the government to announce visa-free policies two to three months in advance to give tourists ample time to plan and book their flights.”

He further mentioned that most airlines are urging the government to increase air service agreements with India. The current agreement for an additional 7,000 seats per week is insufficient for all Thai airlines.

President of the Association of Thai Travel Agents, Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn expressed concerns over the influx of foreign tour businesses registering in Thailand through nominees, particularly from China and Russia.

“The price dumping strategy used by these companies is affecting market pricing and threatening the tourism industry due to their focus on low operational costs, which results in substandard services.”

To counteract these issues stemming from an increase in competition to popular tourist destinations, Sisdivachr suggested that intensive sales and marketing campaigns at the business-to-business level are essential, especially for second-tier tourism provinces. These campaigns can help tour operators introduce new routes to untapped markets.

President of the Thai Hotels Association, Thienprasit Chaiyapatranun recommended that the government consider a subsidy similar to the previous We Travel Together scheme. This new subsidy would focus exclusively on retirees, who have the time and budget to travel during weekdays.

In a meeting with 55 provincial governors, the Bangkok-born Prime Minister emphasised the need for all provinces to improve their infrastructure to match the growing tourism demand. This includes enhancements in transport and other tourism facilities.

These initiatives are part of a broader effort to distribute tourism benefits more evenly across Thailand, ensuring that second-tier cities also experience economic growth from increased tourist arrivals, reported Bangkok Post.

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Ryan Turner

Ryan is a journalism student from Mahidol University with a passion for history, writing and delivering news content with a rich storytelling narrative.

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