By SUCHAT SRITAMA
In what is being envisaged as either a public-private-sector partnership or a solely private investment, tourism-industry sources have confirmed that Bangkok Airways is in talks with Phang Nga province for a large-scale land lease for the facility, with the environmental impact assessment already in the works.
The proposal has been submitted to the Forest Department.
The location of the proposed airport is Moo 4, Baan Tha Dindaeng, Lam Kaeng subdistrict in Phang Nga’s Thai Muang district. It sits on a site of about 2,000 rai (320 hectares).
Tentative plans for the runway are for 3,000 metres, which would be longer than that of Samui’s airport. Details on the cost and facilities of the airport have not been unveiled.
Last year, passenger arrivals at Phuket International Airport exceeded 6.4 million, while nearby Krabi Airport passed the 1.8-million level.
Bill Barnett, managing director of C9 Hotelworks Co, an internationally recognised consulting company, said the post-tsunami decade had set a mainstream stage for a destination success story.
“What a difference a decade makes. The Thai resort market of Phang Nga is expected to achieve 1 million hotel guests in 2016.
“Roll back the clock to 2005 in the aftermath of the Asian tsunami the year before, and [fewer] than 300,000 hotel guest arrivals materialised,” he said.
According to C9 Hotelworks’ market research, the four-year growth period from 2010-14 laid the foundation to break the cycle of the destination’s notorious seasonality into one with year-around appeal.
This is expected to become even more pronounced in the years to come as the rising Chinese, Australian and regional Asian source markets add to the traditional legacy winter snowbird arrivals and grow the destination.
Barnett said hotels in the pipeline were increasing.
Overseas investors and international brands are fuelling the momentum of a defined move north of Khao Lak into Bangsak and beyond, seeing a series of large upscale properties coming online.
It is expected that the new airport will relieve pressure on Phuket’s aviation gateway and serve as a tourism hub for Phang Nga, and as a long-term catalyst for sustainable growth.
Nearby Khao Lak counts 104 registered tourism establishments with 7,822 rooms and is seeing a considerable influx of international hotels in the pipeline.
Bangkok Airways boasts a strong track record successfully managing and marketing a similar facility on the resort island of Samui.