TAT plans new flights for Hua Hin Airport, region set for huge tourism boost

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Hua Hin Airport. File Photo. Hua Hin Today

At the time of posting, this is the most up to date and comprehensive information about the plans for Hua Hin Airport and tourism in the region.

Following a week where Hua Hin and Phetchaburi have been front and centre of the government’s strategy for revitalizing tourism in the region, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has revealed its plans for Hua Hin Airport and the development of tourism in Phetchaburi and the ‘Lower Central Region.’

Efforts are underway to negotiate with various airlines to increase flights to Hua Hin Airport, beyond the current AirAsia route between Hua Hin and Chiang Mai.

At the recent mobile cabinet meeting in Phetchaburi, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin and his delegation reviewed government projects in the Lower Central Region.

Ms. Thapanee Kiatphaibool, Governor of the TAT, at Wat Tham Chaeng in Cha-am. Image: TAT

A key focus of the visit was the development progress of Hua Hin Airport to support international flights, aiming to boost tourism in Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, and nearby provinces.

Ms. Thapanee Kiatphaibool, Governor of the TAT, revealed that the Prime Minister has tasked TAT with creating travel demand in anticipation of Hua Hin Airport’s development. The Prime Minister has urged the completion of the project six months ahead of schedule, by the fourth quarter of 2025, to align with the tourism season and enhance travel convenience for incoming tourists.

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Ms. Thapanee Kiatphaibool, TAT Governor, said “TAT is boosting tourism promotions of the lower central region by leveraging established tourist cities of Phetchaburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan as gateways to hidden gems in Suphan Buri, Ratchaburi and Kanchanaburi as well as other cross-regional cities. We are promoting must-do activities to encourage more travel and better distribute tourism income across the region.”

Introducing two new airline routes

Initially, TAT plans to discuss details with airlines and other relevant agencies, to increase flights to Hua Hin Airport. Currently, AirAsia offers daily domestic flights on the Hua Hin-Chiang Mai route.

Simultaneously, TAT will expedite coordination with airlines to establish connecting routes between regions, such as Udon Thani-Hua Hin and Hat Yai-Hua Hin, recognizing the high potential of attracting international tourists through these routes.

“TAT is considering the potential of the Udon Thani-Hua Hin and Hat Yai-Hua Hin routes. Udon Thani is a major hub that can attract tourists from the CLMV countries (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam) to Hua Hin. Meanwhile, Hat Yai can cater to tourists from Malaysia or travelers from the southern region and Malaysia. The Chiang Mai-Hua Hin route has shown an average passenger load factor of 80%, making it an attractive route to further promote tourism,” stated the TAT Governor.

Hua Hin Airport development for international flights

Hua Hin Today file photo

The Ministry of Transport reports that Hua Hin Airport currently has a runway 2,100 meters long and 35 meters wide. The apron can accommodate two aircraft, such as the Airbus A320 and ATR72, simultaneously.

The runway is being extended by 240 meters, with safety areas being added on both ends, each extending at least 90 meters. Systems are also being installed to help slow down and stop aircraft that overrun the runway. The passenger terminal could handle 800,000 to 1 million passengers annually, with an average capacity of 300 passengers per hour.

Promoting local food and spiritual tourism routes

Following the Prime Minister’s visit to the region, TAT aims to stimulate travel frequency and increase tourist spending by promoting high-potential destinations in Phetchaburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan, highlighting their strengths under the “Must Do in Thailand” strategy.

Image: TAT

As a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy, Phetchaburi will be promoted for its culinary highlights, including local dishes like Kaeng Kua Hua Tan (toddy palm curry) and ‘Lime Palm Soda’. The province also boasts the annual Phra Nakhon Khiri Festival, set to be elevated to an international scale. Another notable attraction which will be heavily promoted is Wat Tham Chaeng in Cha-am, famous for being Thailand’s largest naga statue.

Developing the Four Buri Cities tourism route

To promote interconnected tourism within the central provinces, TAT is planning to develop the “Four Buri Cities” (Suphan Buri, Kanchanaburi, Ratchaburi, and Phetchaburi).

This will involve enhancing the unique identities of each province into tourism products and activities. Suphan Buri is known for its music, famous Thai temples, and desserts like Suphanburi Sali. Kanchanaburi will enhance the light and sound show at the Bridge over the River Kwai and present it as a virtual event.

Ratchaburi will be promoted as a hub of art, showcasing its art scene and local way of life. Phetchaburi will support food tourism as part of its recognition as a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy.

From January to April 2024, TAT recorded 36.96 million trips to the lower central region, generating 161.78 billion Baht. For the entire year, TAT has set a target of 103.07 million trips and an income of 464.6 billion Baht. Looking ahead, TAT expects an increase in both domestic and international tourists, as well as increased tourism spending within the area.

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