Airports of Thailand (AOT) hopes industry-level events such as Routes Asia can revive the tourism and air transport industry of Chiang Mai, which has been decimated by COVID-19 and the protracted Chinese border closure.
The Thai city was announced as the host of Routes Asia 2023 in Da Nang, Vietnam, on June 8 during Routes Asia 2022.
“Thailand was badly hit by COVID-19 and especially Chiang Mai, which also received a significant number of Chinese tourists," Sirote Duangratana, AOT's senior EVP of business development, told Routes. "Events like Routes Asia are essential to help rebuild Chiang Mai’s network with the rest of the world.”
Following the relaxation of border measures in May, Thailand’s domestic passenger volume is now at 60% of pre-pandemic levels and international has recovered to 40%. Duangratana said it hopes to hit 60% of international volume sometime around 2023 and full recovery by 2024.
He added that the new satellite terminal at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport is already completed, but the facility will need the return of flights and passengers before it is fully operationalized. Known as SAT 1, the building increases BKK’s handling capacity by 15 million passengers annually. Another project underway is the construction at the capital’s Don Mueang airport of a new international terminal, which is expected to be completed by 2025.
The next Routes Asia will be held in Chiang Mai over Feb.14-16, 2023.