BANGKOK Dec 26 Thailand's success in attracting
huge numbers of tourists has put some infrastructure for
handling the influx under pressure, an economist with the World
Bank said on Monday.
"Bottlenecks are building up in destinations like Chiang
Mai, Bangkok and Phuket, while infrastructure still hasn't
expanded," Kiatipong Ariyapruchya said.
The economist also said that new destinations inside
Thailand "must be introduced and monitored closely to support
The industry has remained resilient despite a 2014 coup and
a wave of deadly bombings in August this year that killed four
Thai tourists and injured dozens, including foreigners.
Last year, Thailand attracted a record 29.9 million
visitors. The tourism ministry expects 32.4 million visitors
this year while the tourism council says there could be 34.4
million in 2017.
But tourism growth is putting airports and other aspects of
infrastructure under strain. Infrastructure is a problem not
just for tourism - a rare bright spot for the economy - but for
growth in general.
AIRPORT EXPANSION PLANS
In the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Index
2016-2017 , Thailand's infrastructure ranking was 49th compared
with 38th in 2006-2007.
For airport congestion, help is planned. In June, Airports
of Thailand Pcl (AOT), the country's main airport
operator, said it intends to spend $5.5 billion over the next 15
years to expand six main airports.
At present, Thailand is in the middle of its tourist high
season, as travellers seeking respite from the cold in the
Western Hemisphere flock to the country's beaches and islands.
Sunsanee Fongcharoen, a Bangkok Airways passenger
service supervisor at Suvarnabhumi Airport, one of the capital's
two international airports, said bookings have increased
two-fold during the peak season, putting airport services under
There can be "passenger build-up at counter check-in areas
and at immigration," Sunsanee said.
In 2015, Suvarnabhumi Airport and Don Muang International
Airport handled a total of 525,679 flights, up 15.6 percent from
the previous year, according to the Thailand Board of
(Reporting by Pairat Temphairojana; Editing by Amy Sawitta
Lefevre and Richard Borsuk)