Airport upgrade to ‘kick start’ future of tourism

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Expanding the runway will mean more international and domestic flights can land at the Hua Hin Airport.

With the airport rejuvenation plan about to get under way, the doors are ready to be opened for the transformation of Hua Hin into a prime international tourism destination.

A key player in this development, who is now seeking even more community support, is Udorn Olsson, Advisor to the Deputy Minister of Transport and a resident of Hua Hin.

Mr. Olsson, together with Hua Hin Airport Director Apisit Ubolkomut and professional marketing consultant John Laroche, has been busy rallying Hua Hin stakeholders, including tourism authorities and associations as well as travel/ hospitality industry leaders, to join the cause.

Their mission is to develop and commence extensive marketing plans to coincide with airport developments.  Mr. Olsson said the airport rejuvenation provides the opportunity to “kick-start” Hua Hin tourism and “open the door” for the resort town to become one of Thailand’s best-known international tourism destinations.

An international airport will do away with the need for travelers to commute for several hours from Bangkok, an issue that has long been a major tourism disincentive, he said. He is also well aware that Hua Hin currently has a very low profile on the international stage and needs a major upgrade of destination marketing strategies.

His vision is for Hua Hin to become a unique boutique tourism destination, celebrating and sharing its special image, as appreciated and recognised amongst the people of Thailand, with the rest of the world, rather than just another large transport hub. Hua Hin, he went on to say, has long been a special destination for those that have ventured here and has a truly unique positioning – nice and cool, distinct from its better known cousins, such as Phuket, Koh Samui, Pattaya and, of course, Bangkok.

Hua Hin Airport – Getting ready for its new face lift in the coming months.

‘Amazing Hua Hin’ is a mantra he uses to describe the prospect of selected direct connections to airports within 6-7 hours’ travel time, including Southern China, Hong Kong, Singapore, India and Japan. Airport development plans were previously disclosed in 2016 by then-Transport Minister Arkhom  Termpittayapaisith during an inspection trip to the airport.

Hua Hin airport was then only being used by one scheduled carrier and as primarily a base for the Civil Aviation Training Centre. That situation remains unchanged to date.

The Minister recognised that the airport was quite well equipped, with a 35-metre-wide, 2,100-metre-long runway able to support Boeing 737 aircraft. He had a plan developed to enhance its capacity. On 11 November 2019, Deputy Transport Minister Athirat Rattanaset made an inspection trip to Hua Hin airport on invitation from Mr. Olsson, during which he was briefed on the lack of budget for expanding the airport runway to meet international standard requirements and enable Hua Hin airport to accommodate international flights.

Subsequently, the government allocated a budget for the purpose, marking an important step towards opening up Hua Hin to tourism development. Hua Hin Airport Director Apisit Ubolkomut confirmed that the first stage of transforming the airport into a fully-fledged international destination is about to commence. As soon as contracts are enacted, work will begin on widening the airport runway, a project with a completion date set for mid-2021.

A budget of 250 million baht has already been approved through the Ministry of transport. The airport director is also confident that approval for a further 100 million baht will soon follow to enable significant improvements to the airport terminal building during the second stage in 2022. Hua Hin has long been regarded as a secondary tourism destination by international travelers–and maybe a well-hidden secret with the people of Thailand and those that have ventured here. But those in the know say the doors are ready to be opened so that our city can be transformed into ‘Amazing Hua Hin’!

By Hua Hin Today

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