By The Nation
“Thailand has the best connections within the entire region,” says TAT deputy governor Tanes Petsuwan. “There are approximately 30 overland border checkpoints open with Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Malaysia, as well as four Friendship Bridges with Laos and one with Myanmar, with more being planned.
“The Asian Highway is growing rapidly and will provide extensive road connectivity beyond the neighbouring countries to both China and India. Rail travel is going to be the next generation of land-transport infrastructure to emerge, with high-speed links now in the design and planning stage.”
Tanes notes that Thailand’s international airports serve 135 scheduled and chartered airlines. Low-cost airlines from Vietnam, China, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong are boosting their frequencies to Bangkok as well as other popular tourism destinations; such as Phuket and Chiang Mai.
“Phuket, Pattaya and Samui are now home to a number of cruise and yachting marinas,” he adds. “Ferry connectivity is growing with Malaysia and will grow in future with Indonesia, Cambodia and Myanmar.”
To build on this expansion, the TAT has published “Experience Thailand and More”, a pocketbook focusing on four key experiences that enhance its Asean Connectivity initiative with new destination combinations.
The other countries of Southeast Asia are collectively Thailand’s largest source of visitors, of whom more than nine million were welcomed in 2017. Malaysia is the largest market, followed by Laos and Singapore.
Tanes stresses that Chiang Mai is also benefiting from convenient air access. In 2017, more than 18,000 international flights utilised Chiang Mai International Airport. In December, Qatar Airways’ launched a direct non-stop service from Doha to Chiang Mai.
He says Thailand crossed the 35-million-visitors mark in 2017 and is this year anticipating tourism earnings from foreign tourists of US$53 billion.
For 2018, TAT has set a growth target of eight per cent in tourism revenues from the international market.