Calls for Thailand’s Betong airport upgrade

Construction News
Locals visit and enjoy taking pictures at Betong Airport in 2022. (Bangkok Post file photo)

Calls for Thailand’s Betong airport upgrade

Operators to ask PM for longer runway

The Betong District Tourism Association is urging the government to expand Betong International Airport‘s runway under the prime minister’s tourism promotion plan so it can accommodate larger aircraft and bring in more tourists.

The association is planning to submit a proposal for the expansion during Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin’s visit to the district on Tuesday, said Narin Ruangwongsa, its deputy president.

According to government spokesman Chai Wacharonke, Mr Srettha’s official trip to the deep South region — which consists of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat provinces — will focus mainly on tourism stimulation.

Mr Srettha will be accompanied by Interior Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, Transport Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit, Tourism Minister Sudawan Wangsuphakijkosol, Justice Minister Pol Col Tawee Sodsong and Culture Minister Sermsak Phongpanich, Mr Chai said.

According to the association, Yala welcomed 1,026,501 Thai and 631,191 foreign visitors last year, bringing in about 5.1 billion baht. At least 1.6 million people visited the famous Betong district, it said.

Mr Narin said the association would ask the government to lengthen the runway from the current 1.8 kilometres to 2.5km to help support larger aircraft.

The expansion will allow the airport to accommodate 150- to 180-seat aircraft, as opposed to the current limit of 80 seats or less, he said.

Supporting larger aircraft can lead to cheaper travel costs to the district, which will result in more visitors, he said.

Regarding the proposal, Mr Narin said that promoting historical sites and harnessing aspects of local soft power are included in the plan.

The association will also push to promote festivals that highlight the province’s multicultural values to visitors, especially Chinese tourists, he said.

The association also wants to promote Thai-Muslim cultural events such as a Malaya Day as they can help attract high-spending tourists, like those from the Middle East, he added.

Additionally, the association hopes to organise more tourism-related events, such as “Batong Trail Running” and “Ecotourism Route Cycling”, he said.

Establishing more landmarks, such as check-in spots like Hala-Bala Forest’s Lake Bridge, may also be added to the tourism promotion plan, said Mr Narin.