Life & Leisure

Thailand’s largest airport opens new terminal with eye on tourism

Bangkok, Sep 29 (EFE).- Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport, one of the most visited in the world, inaugurated Friday a third terminal with capacity for 15 million passengers, within the framework of an ambitious Thai plan to boost tourism in the country.

With the new satellite terminal, the country’s largest airport will expand its annual passenger capacity from the current 45 million to 60 million, a measure with which it hopes to face the tourist avalanche forecast with the arrival of the high season in the country starting in October.

The international airport operator, Thailand Airports, said it expects the facility to reach its maximum passenger capacity as early as next year.

The inauguration of the terminal, with a construction value of about THB35 billion (about $960 million), is part of the company’s plans to expand its facilities in line with the Thai government’s ambitious agenda to foster momentum of the tourism industry, which collapsed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, a former real estate tycoon who took power earlier this month, has emphasized that the revival of tourism is one of the central axes of his administration.

Srettha, who participated in the inauguration ceremony of the new air terminal, said Friday that he would now work to promote the completion of the construction of a third runway, which is expected to be operational in July 2024.

“Tourism can quickly create jobs and income for the Thai people,” he said.

“I am sure that the new facilities will make a good impression on international travelers,” he added, highlighting the “spacious” layout and “modern” designs of the facilities.

It is estimated that, with the activation of the third runway, the Suvarnabhumi’s aircraft handling capacity will increase to 94 flights per hour, compared to the current 68, according to the operator.

The government recently announced a series of measures to attract more international travelers, including visa waiver for Chinese tourists for a period of five months, as the Thai economy falters again.

In 2019, before the pandemic, Chinese travelers accounted for almost a third of the nearly 40 million foreign tourists who visited Thailand, but numbers plummeted due to the Covid-19 crisis and have not fully recovered.

However, by 2023 the government expects Thailand, one of the main tourist destinations in the world, will receive between 25 and 30 million travelers, who could generate 1.5 trillion baht in income.

So far this year, the country has welcomed nearly 20 million tourists, with travelers from Malaysia, China and South Korea topping the list. EFE


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