Northern Phuket is set to receive a brand-new, 60 billion-baht (US$1.9 billion) airport, according to recent reports. Phang Nga – Andaman International Airport is the tentative name given to the new development underway in Khok Kloi Phang Nga. The new airport is expected to ease passenger traffic at the existing airport in Phuket and serve as a hub for Phang Nga – a popular tourist destination nearby. According to the Centre for Aviation, Bangkok Airways is reportedly in talks with Phang Nga Province regarding a potential land lease deal, with an environmental impact assessment already underway.
The project is being welcomed by local hoteliers and industry professionals, for whom the improved access is expected to open the destination up to a larger market and provide a boon to business. Bill Barnett is the Managing Director of C9 Hotelworks. “If it materialises, the travel time to the Khao Lak tourism area will be reduced to approximately one hour and in effect create a far broader mainstream tourism market,” said Barnett in the Khao Lak & Phang Nga Hotel Market Update in June 2018.
The area is already seeing strong growth; 2017 saw 4.6 million arrivals at Phuket International Airport. Western European visitors were the largest demographic in this group, accounting for 65 per cent of total international guests. There has also been increased demand in the MICE sector, comprising weddings from Europe, India, and Australia together with incentives from Singapore and Hong Kong.
Phang-Nga is a province in southern Thailand, bordering the Andaman Sea on the west coast of the Malay Peninsula. Phang-Nga Bay, in southern Ao Phang-Nga National Park, is distinguished by its tall limestone rock-like islets. One of the islets, Khao Phing Kan, is known for a 20m-tall rock called Ko Tapu, or James Bond Island, which is featured in the film “The Man with the Golden Gun.”