AirAsia rallies to Thai tourism players to welcome Chinese Travellers in 2013
AirAsia pledges its full cooperation with the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Airports of Thailand and other industry players to welcome Chinese media to ultimately boost tourists’ presence to the Kingdom.
AirAsia joins forces with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), Airports of Thailand, King Power and the Mall Group to welcome media members from China’s five major cities of Wuhan, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Shenzen and Macau, flown in to witness the readiness of Don Mueang Airport and experience a new approach to tourism in Thailand while unveiling its goal to boost Chinese tourism to Thailand in 2013 through the continual addition of new routes.
Ms. Jumnong Junnapinya, TAT Director for the East Asia Region, said that the Chinese tourist market was one of Thailand’s most important in 2011, explaining that 1.76 million Chinese travelers, 10 percent of the 19 million foreign visitors to Thailand, entered the Kingdom last year. The first 9 months of 2012, from January to September, has already seen 1.94 million Chinese tourists coming to Thailand, a 39% increase year on year. The TAT expects over 2.2 million Chinese travelers to have visited Thailand by the end of the year.
Mr. Tassapon Bijleveld, CEO of Thai AirAsia, highlighted that over the past 2 years, AirAsia has steadily expanded its network of destinations in China. He noted that in 2012 alone, the airline opened 4 new routes to improve connectivity to China’s financial centers, starting with Bangkok-Chongqing in the southwest (launched in March 2012) and followed by Chiang Mai-Macau (launched 22 May 2012), Bangkok-Wuhan in Central China (launched 19 October 2012) and Bangkok-Xian in the northwest (launched 16 November). He pointed out that with the existing destinations of Macau, Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, AirAsia’s network of destinations in China has become emboldened and ready to support the tourism business between Thailand and China.
“Thailand is a popular destination among Chinese travellers, seeing both group tours and FIT travelers throughout the year due to its travel highlights as well as investment opportunities. Flying with AirAsia to Don Mueang Airport allows for quick travel to Bangkok or nearby Ayutthaya and Pattaya as well as convenient connection to Thailand’s other regions and popular destinations such as Chiang Mai and Phuket. AirAsia’s low cost tickets also mean that travellers will be able to spend more on other aspects of their visit, stimulating the economy on a wider scale” Mr. Tassapon said.
Data from January to August of 2012 has revealed that 1 in 3 travellers from China to Thailand travelled with AirAsia and that the airline averaged 85 percent load factor on all of its flights to and from China. In 2013, AirAsia plans to open more routes in China, acknowledging it as the most rapidly developing and important markets for tourism.
Mr. Somchai Sawasdipol, Acting Managing Director Engineering and Construction AOT, indicated that travellers account for the greatest volume of foreign tourists traveling in and out of Thailand with approximately 2.8 million Chinese people passing through Suvarnabhumi Airport between 1 January and 30 September 2012. He estimated that following AirAsia’s transfer of services to Don Mueang Airport on October 1st, the number of Chinese travelers to the revamped hub will jump to ten thousand a month. Don Mueang Airport has been prepared to this influx by putting include in Chinese, both on the exterior and interior of the terminal.
Presently, Don Mueang Airport’s Terminal 1 can accommodate up to 18.5 million passengers. AOT has already drafted the second phase of its development plan to be carried out between 2013 and 2016. The plan will improve Terminal 2 of the airport as well as Hangar 5 and Level 7 of the parking garage and also includes upgrades to the airport’s communication systems and utilities, all together increasing its accommodation capability to 27.5 million passengers a year up to 2027.
Mr. Wanchai Chanwattanarangkul, Managing Director of Marketing for The Mall Group, added that The Mall Group has opened a retail space at Don Mueang Airport dubbed ‘The Mall Sky Port’. Covering 2,700 sq. meters of space and costing over 200 million baht to construct, the space enacts the concept ‘The World of Asia’ to offer a variety of food and beverage, services, fashion accessories, decorations, lifestyle products and goods popular among tourists, especially from China.