AoT cautious over tourism reopening

AoT cautious over tourism reopening

A woman checks departure information on a display screen at Suvarnabhumi airport. (Bangkok photo)
A woman checks departure information on a display screen at Suvarnabhumi airport. (Bangkok photo)

Airports of Thailand (AoT) has welcomed the country's planned reopening to foreign visitors, but the public company’s head warns further setbacks are possible.

AoT president, Nitinai Sirismatthakarn, said on Monday that launch of the tourism sandbox programme in Phuket next month may not attract as many tourists as the government had expected, as the island is entering its low season coinciding with onset of the rainy season.

International traffic is expected to pick up in October, he said, which is considered the start of tourism’s high season in Thailand.

When the programme -- under which tourists from countries with low and medium Covid risk will be allowed to enter Phuket -- commences next month, there will be approximately 18 international flights serving Thailand per day on average, many of which are destined for Phuket.

Mr Nitinai said the number is equal to roughly 5% of pre-pandemic traffic, adding that before most flights were grounded due to Covid-19 there were about 380 Thailand-bound international flights each day.

His remarks came on the back of a message from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which warned restoring global connectivity will require far more than regional or individual state initiatives.

Connectivity needs countries at both ends of the journey to be open, said Willie Walsh, IATA's director-general.

He noted many of the world's largest air travel markets such as Australia, China, the UK, Japan and Canada remain essentially closed with no clear plans towards a reopening.

"Data should help these and other countries to introduce targeted policies that keep their populations safe while moving towards normality in a world with Covid-19," Mr Walsh said.

While Mr Nitinai said the AoT has prepared its facilities and resources and is ready for reopening, he admitted he was not certain if airlines and tourism businesses share his enthusiasm.

Vocabulary

  • coincide with: to happen at the same time as something else - เกิดขึ้นพร้อมกับ
  • commence: to start; to begin - เริ่มต้น, ตั้งต้น
  • connectivity (noun): how well connected things are, how easily you can get from one place to another - ภาวะเชื่อมต่อ, สภาพเชื่อมโยง
  • destined: on the way to - มุ่งหน้าไปทาง
  • essentially: for the most part - ที่สำคัญที่สุด
  • ground: to prevent an aircraft from taking off - ไม่อนุญาตให้เครื่องบินบินขึ้น
  • onset: the beginning of something, especially something unpleasant - การเริ่มต้น กำเริบ
  • roughly: approximately but not exactly - โดยประมาณ, อย่างคร่าวๆ
  • sandbox (noun): an isolated environment or situation. -
  • setback: something that happens which delays or prevents a process from advancing - การหยุดยั้งการก้าวหน้า,ความล้มเหลว,การถอยหลัง
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