BANGKOK (The Nation/Asia News Network): The Chamber of Commerce is preparing to present plans for expanding and improving the airport in Loei province to the government, hoping to enhance connectivity for tourism in the northeastern provinces.
This initiative follows a similar plan launched during former Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha's time in office when he and his cabinet visited Loei and held a mobile cabinet meeting in Phetchabun province.
The cabinet approved the development of Loei Airport to increase its capacity and standards to accommodate the growing number of tourists, allocating a budget of 987.8 million baht for the project.
This development is part of the economic and social growth strategy for the upper northeastern provinces, including Loei.
According to Nattapol Leungwongpaisal, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce for the upper Northeastern provinces, Loei's primary income comes from agriculture and tourism. Improving infrastructure is believed to support economic growth, especially in the tourism sector.
The airport expansion is seen as a key factor in fostering visitor numbers, Currently, tourists typically travel to Loei by car from Bangkok, which takes around 7-8 hours.
Expanding the airport is expected to facilitate travel for tourists coming to the province.
Loei Airport currently serves over 300,000 passengers, which is insufficient to accommodate the more than 3 million tourists who visit Loei annually. Therefore, the province aims to have an airport capable of handling at least 1 million passengers per year.
The Chamber of Commerce for the upper Northeastern provinces, representing five provinces (Udon Thani, Loei, Nong Bua Lam Phu, Nong Khai, and Bueng Kan), is advocating for the development of airports in both Udon Thani and Loei, as this would significantly improve connectivity between these five provinces.
The Chamber of Commerce is planning to present the proposal for Loei airport's construction and improvement during the Chamber of Commerce's annual meeting scheduled for Sept 14-16.
They have already undertaken design and consultancy work for the project and are seeking government approval for this project, which would not only promote secondary city tourism but also allow Loei Airport to become a customs port for the import of goods from China through Laos and for the export of Thai goods to China via Laos.