Thailand’s Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin paid a surprise visit to Bangkok’s Suvarnahabhumi airport, instructing staff to expedite immigration procedures and baggage claims for passengers.
The prime minister was accompanied by the commander of Immigration Division 2, Pol Maj Gen Choengron Rimpadi, who was seen fielding questions during the visit.
Prime Minister Srettha said on X, formerly Twitter, that passengers should take no more than 30 minutes to pass through immigration and should have to wait less time to collect their luggage.
Other difficulties that needed to be addressed and should most likely be included in the KPI (key performance indicator) for all officials were the IT system and its backup. It had crashed multiple times, he explained.
His visit comes ahead of planned renovations to the country’s airports and aviation sector, which will begin in March. They involve the development of a new runway at Suvarnabhumi.
Prime Minister Srettha revealed the ideas at a TNN Channel 16 forum last month.
“I don’t want to see merely the reports’ progress. On Monday, he wrote: “I want to see it with my own eyes.”
As the prime minister issued instructions to speed up airport operations on flights to Thailand, including baggage collection, a passenger on Monday reflected on the reality of his arrival at Thailand’s primary aviation gateway on Sunday night.
Kasemsant Weerakun, an independent academic, spoke on Mcot radio’s Good Morning Asean broadcast.
He stated that he and other passengers returning from Taipei on Thai Airways International flight TG635 on Sunday night had to wait 90 minutes to get their luggage.
“What disappointed me and other passengers travelling to Thailand was there was no announcement by the airport informing passengers of the cause of the delay and when they could expect to get their bags,” stated one passenger. “All we could do was sit and wait.”
Their flight left Taipei at 8.20pm and arrived in Suvarnabhumi at 11.15pm on Sunday.
Suvarnabhumi and other major airports expect an increase in Chinese visitors during the Lunar New Year festival, which begins late this week.
Phuket International Airport expects an average of 49,000 tourists to arrive per day for the Lunar New Year event, which began on Sunday and will end on February 16.
Airport director Monchai Tanod said on Sunday that the overall number of arrivals is expected to reach 640,000, including 430,000 overseas guests, throughout the 13-day period.
During the year, the airport, operated by Airports of Thailand, will receive a total of 3,915 flights, including 2,298 foreign and 1,617 domestic flights. He stated that airport administration is ready for a rise in passengers since it has intensified efforts to maintain efficiency and safety, which are its top priority.
More real-time passenger tracking systems and common-use self-service kiosks for quick passenger check-ins have been installed to provide quick and convenient services and inspections. He also stated that the airport has been adorned for the Lunar New Year, and management would hold activities and provide souvenirs to tourists on February 8.
He suggested outbound passengers should arrive at the airport two to three hours before their flight. Flights can be checked via the “SAWASDEE by AOT” app or the contact centre, he said.
Meanwhile, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) anticipates an increase in Chinese tourist arrivals on Koh Samui this month, owing to the visa-waiver plan and Chinese New Year.
TAT’s Koh Samui director, Kanokkittika Kritwuthikorn, stated that the government’s visa-waiver policy has a beneficial impact on the island’s tourism.
On February 1, a direct aircraft carrying 138 Chinese tourists arrived at Samui’s airport. She anticipates at least 5,000 Chinese tourists visiting the island this month.
During Chinese New Year, Bangkok Airways will increase direct flights from Chongqing and Chengdu in southwest China to Koh Samui to four days per week — Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Approximately 4,000 Chinese visitors visited the island in January.
Koh Samui is the fourth most searched location on the Chinese travel agency site CTrip, following Bangkok, Phuket, and Chiang Mai.
“Samui’s popularity among Chinese travellers is also partly attributed to promotional campaigns by the Tourism Association of Koh Samui and the meetings between local tourism operators and their [Chinese] counterparts,” the man stated.