The Tourism Council of Thailand is calling on the government to help improve the country’s tourism management while the industry continues to grow fast. The country’s main international airport has the capacity of accommodating 45 million passengers per year. Now it is handling over 51 million passengers.
When Suvarnabhumi Airport opened six years ago, it was heralded as a futuristic model for the region. Today, passenger volume has soared far beyond the airport’s capacity of 45 million travellers annually. To ensure that the airport is not extremely congested, the second phase of the airport will be further constructed following delays.
“Political instabilities as well as other issues are part of the reason as to why the second phase of Suvarnabhumi airport has been delayed. It’s 2013 and we have not started the construction of the new phase, so there must be other plans to properly cater to the needs of these travellers, which are continuously increasing,” said Sita Divari, board chairman of Airports of Thailand (AOT).
“The second phase can accommodate an additional 15 million passengers — making it 60 million passengers in total per year. In the third phase, the numbers will increase, but that’s a future matter as an EIA will have to be conducted before any other process takes place,” the AOT board chairman said.
Despite certain delays, the Airports of Thailand is confident that the second phase of the airport in suburban Samut Prakan will be up and ready for service by 2017.
Additional development plans for improving connections with five other nearby provinces will also be made to assist commuters in areas close to the capital. These provinces are in a strategic design, including Samut Prakan, Nakhon Nayok, Chacheongsao, Prachinburi and Sa Kaeo bordering Cambodia.
Council president Piyaman Tejapaibul said on Wednesday that the Thai tourism industry is now suffering the somewhat-serious shortage of tour buses and manpower. Mrs. Piyaman conceded that the situation has led to the industry’s failure to meet growing demand.
She added that there have been 22.3 million tourists in Thailand in 2012 while the number is expected to grow to 24.3 million in 2013, with group tours from China and Russia still to top the list of foreign visitors to the country.
The Tourism Council president is urging the government to help with the integration of the tourism management system in Thailand to cope with the rapid rise in the number of visitors.
Meanwhile, the Tourist Transport Association chairman Chavalpong Pongjiranithi added that the shortage of tour buses and tour leaders was brought on by various factors, including existing rules and regulations related to the registration of new buses, the source of loans and the lack of proper preparation for tour bus drivers.