Planned discounts to boost Betong airport

Planned discounts to boost Betong airport

Local officials target Malaysian travellers

Tourism operators in Yala's Betong district are proposing discounts on hotel accommodation and food for travellers booking seats with Nok Air to boost travel demand after Betong airport resumed commercial services.

A proposal was floated at Monday's meeting, chaired by Betong mayor Sakul Lenglakkul, between local authorities and operators of tourism and related businesses.

Air travel to the country's southernmost district ground to a halt after Nok Air, the only commercial airline linking Bangkok and Betong district, suspended flights on account of low traffic.

Tourism operators now plan to offer Nok Air a guarantee of 75% on seat bookings and want to negotiate with the airline to slash airfares to resume operations at the airport by April 1.

They are targeting Malaysian arrivals via land borders who want direct flights to Bangkok, they said.

Narin Ruengwongsa, vice president of the Betong Tourism Association, said hotel operators plan to also offer up to 40% discounts on rooms while restaurants and cafes intend to offer up to 20% discounts on food and beverage for those travelling with Nok Air.

Travellers will be required to present their boarding passes to participating operators to get the discounts, he said.

The plan is expected to help boost seat bookings for Nok Air, which suspended its flights to the newly opened Betong airport just two days after the inauguration last week.

According to Nok Air, there had been too little marketing time, and consequently, the number of passengers on the route was smaller than expected, while the operating cost was high.

Nok Air initially had three scheduled Don Mueang-Betong-Don Mueang flights a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, but they were slashed.

As of now, there are no plans to resume the flights, it said.

Meanwhile, Parinya Sangsuwan, director-general of the Department of Airports (DOA), said the department is gearing up to call for bids in a commercial development project at Betong airport.

Currently, there are no shops at the airport but they should be up and running in May, he said, adding that an area of 100 square metres in the passengers terminal will be put up for the first bidding soon.

Mr Parinya said the DOA expects to see more tourists in May, which usually marks the high tourism season in the district.

The 920-rai Betong airport, located 13km east of downtown Betong, was built to handle 300 passengers an hour.

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