Thailand’s Phang Nga province received an all-time high 4,475,223 visitors in 2016 as tourism revenue topped US$1.16 billion, according to a new report by consulting group C9 Hotelworks.
This was achieved without a local airport. Phang Nga and its leading resort area Khao Lak heavily rely on Phuket’s international airport, which is already overloaded. The area has 12,000 registered hotel rooms in the province and a many more in the pipeline.
Plans for the development of a privately operated airport in Thai Muang District by Bangkok Airways is currently under review as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). While Phang Nga’s provincial government has been a strong advocate, the project has faced local opposition from the agricultural sector.
Tourism has skyrocketed in Phang Nga in the last five years with a compound annual growth rate of 29%. In 2015, the hotel and restaurant sector surged ahead of agriculture and fishing to become its leading industry.
Bill Barnett, managing director of C9 said: “Phuket International Airport despite its expansion is already exceeding state capacity and added pressure to service the Andaman region is creating a juggernaut. A Phang Nga airport would be a benefit for both the province and Phuket’s tourism sector as well. If the situation is allowed to continue the long term limitation will stunt the province’s most important industry.”