New international airport costing ฿80 billion to be built in Phang-nga province which is home to James Bond Island where key scenes from the 1974 movie The Man with the Golden Gun starring Roger Moore were filmed making it easier for tourists to travel there and transit to nearby provinces such as Phuket and Krabi which have all received infrastructure boosts.
The Prime Minister, over the weekend, was busy promoting the government capital programme to boost tourism with an expansion at Suvarnabhumi Airport and infrastructure upgrades in the southern provinces of Phuket, Krabi and Phang-nga with a new ฿80 billion international airport in the province. At the same time, as the baht continues to decline on money markets, the Bank of Thailand released data showing fewer tourists entered Thailand in August but they comprised more long-stay tourists from Japan, Germany and Australia who spent more.
Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin was on the trail south over the weekend promoting the kingdom’s tourism industry with announcements of infrastructure projects in the southern provinces including a ฿148 billion upgrade to tourism infrastructure on the island of Phuket located on the Andaman Sea.
This involved the construction of a new airport on the holiday island which is one of the world’s most well-known tourist destinations.
New airport and expressways on Phuket to offer a better experience for foreign tourists on the island
The second airport on Phuket will have a price tag of ฿5.8 billion and is accompanied by several expressway projects on the island, including a 3.98 km Kathu to Patong expressway and a 30.26 km connection from Mueang Mai to Koh Kaew and Kathu.
The announcements were made by the PM flanked by Minister of Transport Suriya Jungrungruangkit.
The projects form part of a boosted government capital programme, which according to the Bank of Thailand, is already beginning to be felt in the economy.
Speaking with reporters, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin emphasised that the new infrastructure projects were a vote of confidence by the government in the local tourism industry in Phuket but stressed that officials were tasked with ensuring that projects went ahead in consultation with local interests.
The Prime Minister reiterated that tourism would be a key factor in restarting Thailand’s sluggish economy.
New extension to Suvarnabhumi Airport to increase traffic through the country’s largest airport by 33%
At the start of the weekend’s trip on Friday, the Prime Minister accompanied by the Transport Minister, visited the new extension to Suvarnabhumi Airport where a new satellite terminal is being constructed which will increase the capacity of Thailand’s largest airport from 45 million passengers per year to 60 million when completed.
On his visit, Mr Srettha praised former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra for his foresight and vision in developing the new airport which opened in September 2006 with the plans laid in place allowing for continued expansion.
When the government party arrived in Phuket, they also announced plans to extend existing highways on the island which are currently being advanced by the Department of Highways.
Phuket, Krabi and Phang-nga all to see large investments into a southern tourism ‘cluster’ to boost connectivity and connections explained PM Srettha
The ministerial party also announced an upgrade to Krabi Airport which will have a budget of ฿2.7 billion.
The biggest announcement of the trip south concerned the construction of a new international airport in the southern province of Phang Nga, on the west side of the Malay Peninsula.
The new airport will have a budget of ฿80 billion and will be built in the Takua Thung district in the south of the province.
Phang-nga is known for its scenic beauty spots, in particular Khao Phing Kan, popularly known as James Bond Island in Phang Nga Bay, which was made internationally famous by the James Bond 1974 movie, The Man with the Golden Gun, which starred Roger Moore as James Bond.
Government to keep projects moving to completion
On the weekend visit, the Prime Minister noted that many of the projects announced are already underway and his spokesman Mr Chai Wacharonke, said the government’s priority was to make sure that they went ahead without interruption fully funded until they are completed as swiftly as possible.
‘The Prime Minister also instructed relevant agencies to ensure visitors to Phuket are safe and happy from the moment they set foot on the island until they leave,’ Mr Chai explained to reporters. ‘The government is ready to support the projects. The projects will be sped up to welcome tourists.’
On his visit to Phuket, Mr Srettha met with local representatives of the island’s Kathu district where they particularly discussed the new Kathu to Patong expressway.
The PM afterwards emphasised that all the new construction projects must be carried out with due care and consideration to local populations.
In particular, he suggested that fair compensation be paid for any land appropriated or compulsory purchased for the projects and that the environmental impact of all construction activity was to be taken into account.
New international airport on Phang-nga to cost ฿80 billion and cover a 7,400 rai site in the Takua Thung district offering easy access to the province
The new airport on Phang Nga in the Takua Thung district, involving a site of 7,400 rai, will become one of Thailand’s international airports.
The Prime Minister spoke of a southern cluster of provinces, including Phuket, Krabi, Phang Nga, and others, where an upgrade to facilities will allow tourists to transit more effectively from one location to another while providing a boost to tourism investment in one of Thailand’s most visited areas.
On Phuket, where new expressways are being built and expansions are underway to existing expressways, there are also several overpasses connecting routes to the new second airport on the island.
The Prime Minister’s visit to the south to boost the country’s tourism prospects comes as the Bank of Thailand, on Friday, revealed that income from the export of merchandise for August was surprisingly down, despite reports from the Ministry of Commerce that the country’s export decline had reversed course by posting a 2.6% increase on the year previously.
Bank of Thailand gives a cautious assessment of economic data which showed fewer tourists arriving in Thailand in August with a fall in Chinese visitors
The snapshot of economic indicators was given by Mr Sakkapop Panyanukul, a senior director at the Bank of Thailand for macroeconomics.
It painted a very mixed picture of the country’s economic performance and worryingly showed that the number of foreign tourists had decreased in August with a sharp fall off from China.
All the additional spending from tourism was driven by longer stays and a change in the tourist profile with more visitors being seen from Japan, Germany and Australia.
Mr Sakkapop noted that this had resulted in the average stay increasing in August.
However, the Central Bank expressed concern about the increase in the country’s oil consumption rate, which from January to August has risen by 2.3%.
This is coming at a time when the price of oil on global markets is beginning to rise. It warns that this could feed into inflationary pressures moving forward.
Thailand raised its borrowing rate this week but the baht continued to depreciate with the market nervous about the fiscal policy of the new government
On Wednesday, the Bank of Thailand moved to increase its base borrowing rate, which is the one-day repurchase rate, by 25 basis points to 2.5%.
It was a move which was only predicted by 10 out of 21 economists surveyed by Bloomberg.
It brings the borrowing rate in Thailand to the highest level in 10 years but despite the rise in interest rates, the baht has continued to depreciate against the dollar, ending the week at ฿36.86 to the greenback, its lowest valuation since the end of last year.
Analysts are beginning to speculate that markets are nervous about the fiscal policy being pursued by the new government.
The Central Bank noted that demand from trading partners had continued to decrease in August and that the overall value of merchandise exports for the month was down.
Chinese downturn is filtering into Thailand’s economic performance with the baht continuing to suffer from the hawkish policy of the US Fed
Significantly, the Bank of Thailand also noted that both private-sector consumption and investment had slowed.
This figure may be more related to the political uncertainty before the appointment of the new prime minister on August 22nd, which has since seen a bump in consumer confidence, so there is some hope that this may be a short-term trend.
The bank particularly noted a fall off in demand for agricultural products from China, especially with the exports of durian fruit in line with a deterioration in the Chinese economy which has also fed into lower numbers of Chinese tourists in August than expected.
In this way, it is clear the pointed downturn in China is feeding into Thailand’s economic performance.
On a positive note, core inflation related to fresh food decreased in August and the labour market has also improved.
The central bank forecast that the baht will continue to depreciate against the dollar with signs that the US Federal Reserve will, for the moment, continue with its hawkish policy of increasing interest rates in the United States.
The Chinese currency, the yuan, is expected to further depreciate with disappointing economic data emerging from Thailand’s northern neighbour which in turn feeds into lower exports to what is Thailand’s second-largest market.