AoT sees sunnier days for gloomy Thai tourism industry

AoT sees sunnier days for gloomy Thai tourism industry

Airports of Thailand Plc is predicting sunnier days for Thailand’s tourism industry, forecasting an 11% increase in inbound air passengers this high season.

A flight of Thai Airways International leaves Don Mueang airport. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

AOT director and acting president Nirandra Theeranatsin said AOT expected 50.95 million passengers will enter the country between October and March, a 10.6% increase from the last year's high season. He said 337,500 flights will visit Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, Chiang Mai, Hat Yai, Phuket and Chiang Rai airports, a jump of 6.6%.

The forecast stands in stark contrast to a gloomy year for Thai tourism, which has been hammered throughout this year, first by sometimes-violent street protests, then May's military coup and, most recently, the grisly murders of two British backpackers on Koh Tao.

In the first nine months of this year, international tourist arrivals in Thailand fell by 10% to 17.6 million visitors as tourism revenue slid 7.6% to 807 billion baht. The Tourism Authority of Thailand said bookings related to tourism services dropped 18% in August, 12% in September and were expected to drop 6.8% this month.

Tourism Authority of Thailand governor Thawatchai Arunyik earlier said the organisation revised down its 2014 tourism target many times, and now is hoping to attract 1.9 trillion baht in revenue and 25.5 million arrivals, down from the original expectations of 28 million arrivals.

However, Mr Nirandra said new airlines have introduced flight services while existing carriers increased flight frequencies to Thailand's airports. He cited that overwhelming numbers of flights were scheduled for Don Mueang airport, operated by budget carriers including Scoot, NokScoot, Thai AirAsia, Thai AirAsia X, Nok Air and Thai Lion Air.

At Suvarnabhumi, the number of daily flights will rise from 780 in the previous high season to 826 in this high season and the number of daily passengers will increase from 122,600 to 137,800 including 117,100 international flight passengers.

Figures at the other airports will go up from 515 to 526 flights and from 68,500 to 71,200 passengers (including 50,100 domestic flight passengers) daily at Don Mueang, from 155 flights to 180 flights and from 18,400 to 22,700 passengers daily at Chiang Mai airport, and from 65 to 76 flights and from 9,600 to 10,620 passengers daily at Hat Yai airport.

At Phuket airport, the numbers will grow from 200 to 233 flights and from 29,900 to 36,100 passengers (mostly international flight passengers) daily and at Chiang Rai airport the number of flights will climb from 30 to 35 and that of passengers from 3,800 to 4,600 daily.

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