The newly opened Betong Airport, in the southern province of Yala, has inspired hope of a tourism revival in the town. The Bangkok Post reports that the airport received its operating licence from the Aviation Authority of Thailand on January 28. The 920-rai facility can handle up to 300 passengers an hour, or 80,000 a year.
The airport is seen by many as a more viable and safer alternative to travel by road in the region, much of which involves travel across mountainous terrain. Betong Airport is around 13 kilometres east of the southern border town of Betong. It is owned and operated by the Department of Airports, the 29th airport under DOA management. The passenger terminal covers around 7,000 square metres and the 1,800-metre runway can handle small aircraft such as 80-seat turboprops.
According to the Bangkok Post, Nok Air launches its inaugural flight to Betong today, with plans to operate 3 scheduled flights a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob says the airport could become a regional hub for travel between Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore.
Meanwhile, Narin Ruengwongsak from the Betong Tourism Business Association has high hopes for his sector, saying the airport puts Betong firmly on the tourism map. He says the town has many tourism attractions and has now become more accessible. According to Narin, many tourism operators in nearby provinces have enquired about the airport’s opening and are now planning tour packages to welcome visitors from places like Bangkok and further afield.
Kanpong Limkanchana from the Yala Chamber of Commerce echoes the message of hope for the regional tourism sector. He says the opening of the airport should help double visitor numbers to Betong, which currently welcomes around 2,000 tourists a day.
SOURCE: Bangkok Post
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