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Overcrowded Thailand welcomes 34 millionth visitor

Thailand is facing a deluge of Chinese tourists that has strained its airports beyond capacity, but new expansions will take years to ease congestion, meanwhile visitor numbers are projected to almost double

Daniel Lorenzzo

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Ms. Yu-Chen Wang, the 34 millionth arrival to the Kingdom in 2017 was named ‘Thailand’s Luckiest Visitor’ upon arrival at Suvarnabhumi Airport, warmly welcomed by private sector tourism industry representatives and senior executives of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

Ms. Wang arrived in Bangkok this late morning on Thai Airways International’s Flight TG637 from Taipei, Taiwan. She plans to spend five days with her friends taking in the sights and soaking up local Thai experiences in Bangkok and Ayutthaya.

She was rewarded with two economy-class return tickets from her original destination to Thailand, a voucher for five-night accommodation in Thailand as well as the ‘Thailand’s Luckiest Visitor’ accolades that included a signed certificate from TAT.

Thailand is spending billions to upgrade its infrastructure, open up new islands and cities to travelers, and tone down its image of cheap shopping, hotels and sex that underpinned the industry for half a century.

But the change will take years and even then may fail to keep up with soaring visitor numbers that have given the Land of Smiles a reputation for delays, overcrowding and government crackdowns.

Once out of the terminal building, visitors must contend with the Bangkok traffic, the world’s most congested after Mexico City, according to TomTom NV’s traffic index. Commuting from Bangkok airport to hotels in downtown hotels can take up to five hours.

wrote Bloomberg

At the heart of the upgrade, and the congestion, are Bangkok’s two international airports: Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang, which are running at 40 percent beyond designed capacity.

Mr. Tanes Petsuwan, Deputy Governor for Marketing Communications, said 2017 has been an exceptionally good year for Thailand, which is ready to welcome the New Year with a range of exciting tourism events and activities under the action-packed Amazing Thailand Tourism Year 2018.

“We are grateful to Ms. Wang as well as millions of other visitors for making Thailand their preferred destination. TAT is committed to ensuring their visits are always memorable, and offer them the chance to ‘Open to the New Shades’ of tourism experiences each time they visit the Kingdom.”

The ‘Thailand’s Luckiest Visitor’ campaign dates to June 2015, when it was launched to recognise and reward record-breaking visitors on arrival to the country. With strong support from the public and private sector, the campaign has attracted considerable international attention and enhanced the value of Thailand’s tourism brand image.

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