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Koh Samui eyes airport expansion plans

PHOTO: Samui Island Explorer

Yesterday it was a new cruise ship terminal for the Gulf island. Today it’s an expansion of the Bangkok Airways-woned airport.

The Thai PM has confirmed that a feasibility study to expand Koh Samui Airport is underway, with the hope of boosting tourism on the island.

Srettha Thavisin, who visited Samui airport on Sunday, says expansion of the facility would allow it to welcome larger aircraft and more passengers. It’s hoped the study will be completed by the beginning of 2025.

The PM was accompanied by Tourism and Sports Minister Sudawan Wangsuphakijkosol and Deputy Agriculture Minister Chaiya Promma, according to a Bangkok Post report. It was part of an official government visit which kicked off on Saturday and ended yesterday, taking in Koh Samui and Nakhon Si Thammarat.

Koh Samui airport currently handles 6 million passengers a year. It has a runway that is just over 2 kilometres in length and 45 metres wide and can accommodate smaller aircraft like the Airbus A319, which has a capacity of 120 passengers, up to the Airbus A230 series. Bangkok Airways, which owns the airport, is currently acquiring more land to facilitate a potential expansion of the terminal and runway.

Meanwhile, the tourism minister, Ms Sudawan, held discussions with members of the Koh Samui Tourism Promotion Association and various business operators on the island. Talks centred around how to promote tourism further, with Sudawan saying the government plans to promote the island as one of Thailand’s top holiday destinations, with a focus on gastronomy and the island way of life.

The association also suggested that the tourism ministry work with the Labour Ministry to offer training that will improve the skills of locals working in hospitality.

Meanwhile, the subject of the island’s planned cruise terminal also came up, with Sudawan saying if the project succeeds, it will mean more cruise ships stopping in Thailand. In particular, she hopes to see an increase in those coming from Singapore and Hong Kong, which would mean a rise in big-spending tourists.

Since the beginning of the year, Thailand has welcomed around 100 cruise ships, carrying 214,097 passengers and 92,745 crew. The top 5 nationalities arriving by cruise ship are the British, Americans, Malaysians, Germans, and Singaporeans.

According to Sudawan, officials expect the cruise terminal proposal to be ready to be presented for Cabinet approval by the end of the year.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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