AOT braces for surge in tourists

AOT braces for surge in tourists

Travellers wait to check in for flights at Suvarnabhumi airport, Samut Prakan province, on Jan 3, 2023. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
Travellers wait to check in for flights at Suvarnabhumi airport, Samut Prakan province, on Jan 3, 2023. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

The government says it will work with Airports of Thailand (AOT) to enhance services and security for passengers, especially Chinese, during the Lunar New Year.

More than 3 million travellers are expected to arrive in Thailand during the festival.

Transport Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit said AOT's six international airports, Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Hat Yai and Chiang Rai, are expected to welcome about 3.5 million passengers over Chinese New Year between Feb 5 and 14.

With the high number of travellers, the AOT is required to have appropriate security measures and work with other agencies to deal with them and the increased air traffic, according to the minister.

He also ordered an inspection of automatic channels, more immigration officers on duty as well as the utilisation of technology to help maximise service quality.

According to Mr Suriya, more than eight million Chinese tourists are expected to visit Thailand this year, a 200% surge, due to the visa-free agreement between Thailand and China. The agreement becomes effective on March 1.

Government spokesman Chai Wacharonke said that within an hour of the visa exemption announcement, Thailand-related searches on the Chinese travel agency platform CTrip increased by 90%.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin then personally invited Chinese citizens to visit Thailand in a livestream message on CTrip.

Meanwhile, Suvarnabhumi airport, which is expected to welcome the highest number of passengers during Chinese New Year, is looking to provide better services -- especially for Chinese visitors -- including the provision of interpreters and signs in Chinese at shops, restaurants, etc.

Deputy AOT director Kirati Kitmanawat said almost 3,524,000 passengers were expected to travel through its six international airports during the upcoming Chinese holiday, which is a 20% increase from last year.

Of that number, more than 1.7 million will come through Suvarnabhumi airport.

Another initiative drawing visitors to Thailand is the 90-day visa for tourists learning Muay Thai in Phuket. The initiative is part of the government's plan to promote the martial art as part of Thailand's soft power.

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