Previously reported plans for the future of the Hua Hin Airport International Airport have taken big steps forward. Consultative meetings have taken place with tourism authorities, event professionals and multiple airline executives.
Letters of intent to fly here have been received from at least six airlines and all systems are go for the airport to emerge from the shadows of Covid-19 as a sought-after destination for international travellers.
The Royal Coast Review first attended a launch five months ago on 7th April when Phoenix Aviation announced big plans for the marketing and promotion of direct flights to Hua Hin International Airport from multiple destinations within a seven hour flight duration.
The launch was hosted by Mr John Laroche, the CEO of Phoenix Aviation Thailand Ltd. Supporting the launch were Dr Punlop Singhasanee, the Governor of Prachuap Khiri Khan Province, Apisit Ubolkomut, Airport Director along with Tourism Authority of Thailand officials, with tourism organisations, local resort management and media representatives in attendance.
“This is the single most important initiative for Hua Hin International Airport since its inception more than 30 years ago,” said Dr Punlop at the time. “We expect the initiative to elevate the tourism industry, bringing passengers directly to Hua Hin, creating longer stays and increasing local spend.”
Mr Udorn Olsson, Chairman Phoenix Aviation (Thailand) Ltd. said “We have the cooperation and total commitment of municipal, provincial and federal government and the private sector with a Memorandum of Understanding to develop the potential of Hua Hin Airport as a full international airport to benefit the overall economy of Prachuap Khiri Khan and Phetchaburi to recover quickly in the near future.”
Since the launch progress reports have been few, as very sensitive negotiations were being held in Bangkok and Phuket as well as online presentations described as the ‘Airlines Roadshow’. This series of online presentations involved the Prachuap Khiri Khan Governor, the Mayor of Hua Hin, the Tourism Authority of Thailand provincial Governor, the Public Health Director and the Chairperson of the Hua Hin Recharge Program.
More recently John Laroche, as CEO of Phoenix Aviation Thailand (centre, left) met with the Royal Coast Review to discuss the progress of the Hua Hin International Airport becoming ‘open to the world’. He revealed the goals, pathways, progress and projections moving forward with partnerships set to transform the airport from being an underused facility into a vibrant hub of regional tourism.
In order of priority, the broad goals for the future are to bring airlines to Hua Hin, develop the region as a destination and to create a ‘world class’ experience.
John says he has been overwhelmed by the interest with stated commitments of many airlines to fly to Hua Hin. Airlines based in Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, India and China including Jetstar, Scoot, Hong Kong Express, Air Asia, China Express, Go First India and Greater Bay Airlines which services Hong Kong, Macau, and nine mainland Chinese cities are all waiting in line as they describe a pent-up travel demand from their customer base.
These airlines all regard Hua Hin as a high quality leisure destination due to the extensive infrastructure in place and the tourism appeal and they are actively seeking new destinations in Thailand.
That means extensive connections to Europe, Australia and multiple Asian nations with Hua Hin really being open to the world.
October this year is still a plausible time to launch international flights, dependent on borders reopening and the relaxation of quarantine requirements in both the country of departure and Thailand.
With this in mind John has also been actively following the progress of the ‘Hua Hin Recharge’ project and consulting with the project leaders over how future access by travellers to Hua Hin will be managed. More announcements about that progress are anticipated very soon with Vaipanya Kongkwanyuen, the Chiva Som Resort Hua Hin GM and Hua Hin Recharge spokesperson saying he is expecting ‘’all systems to be ready to go!”
If all the required changes by those responsible for Covid-related restrictions allow flights to commence, and an October start, there is a target of 100,000 passengers in 2022 and a total of 1,000,000 inbound visitors by 2025. Of course, the flow-on effect from such an inflow of visitors has economic and other implications for much more than just tourism and hospitality.
John wants the Hua Hin International Airport to be much more than just a functional arrival and departure point, pointing out some of the changes being planned as we ‘toured’ the facility.
That includes travellers being exposed to destination marketing with hotel and attraction promotions, welcoming packages, ‘Safe Destination’ support, meet & greet/fast lane access, VIP lounges, hospitality venues and visitor services such as tour operators.
But also weekend markets and a calendar of events with the B-Concept Media Entertainment Group as a partner. Another partner is GolfAsian with John pointing out how a terminal artificial water feature will become a golf putting green and how local golf courses will be able to showcase their facilities.
John’s concept of the Phoenix Plan is to link the airport with the town and community with upgraded visitor services, partnership opportunities and special tourist services for the region as well as at the airport.
The next step needs to be the eagerly awaited tourism access changes; then the Hua Hin International Airport will be set to become a worldwide destination.