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Saturday 11 November 2023

Is this the next Phuket or Krabi?

Never heard of Nakhon Si Thammarat and its emerging beach destination Sichon?

You are not alone.

Yet the unspoilt Nakhon Si Thammarat region in the south of Thailand - about 610km south of Bangkok on the east coast of the Malay Peninsula - could be the next Thai tourism hotspot.

Nakhon Si Thammarat International Airport opens next month and is set to spark a new era of tourism.

Overseas visitors will be able to fly straight to a coastal destination that is renowned for its pristine beaches, forests, mountainous areas and unpolluted air.

Thai tourism operators say sustainability will be key as this area opens up with ecotourism the focus.

The new state-of-the-art international passenger terminal cost $AU62.6 million and has capacity for four million passengers a year.

At present, three airlines - Nok Air, Thai AirAsia and Thai Lion Air - fly to Nakhon Si Thammarat, all from Bangkok. The opening of the new international terminal will begin a roll out of direct, scheduled flights from Asian markets including Singapore, China, Taiwan and Malaysia.

“It is a significant moment in the history of one of Thailand’s most compelling destinations,” said Ravi Chandran, former CEO of Laguna Phuket and executive director of Urasaya (below), a luxury beachfront development in Sichon.

“With the new terminal geared for international travellers offering direct access, it not only reaffirms the existing domestic access from Bangkok, just like better known destinations such as Phuket and Chiang Mai, but a future that will see an increase in tourism investment and higher visitor numbers.”

The project is a central component of Nakhon Si Thammarat’s strategy to attract a new generation of experience-seeking international travellers.

Ecotourism is a key sector for the province, which is home to 200km of mountain ranges and 200km of beaches.

I’m very excited about the opening of the airport,” said Sichon-native Benjapop Benjathammatorn, owner of Sichon Cabana Resort. “It will provide greatly improved access and an opportunity for international travellers to explore the active, healthy lifestyle we are focused providing across the destination.”

The launch of Nakhon Si Thammarat International Airport forms part of the Thai government’s Southern Economic Corridor (SEC) project, which aims to transform Thailand’s southern provinces into a major economic hub.

The new airport could soon be complemented by a road bridge to the popular island of Koh Samui, which is just a short distance offshore.




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