TRAVEL operators have urged authorities to upgrade Buriram Airport to international status to increase the number of South-East Asian tourists travelling to the North-East of Thailand.
A former president of the Professional Tourist Guide Association in Buriram province, said that tourism operators such as hotels and travel companies wanted the government to promote Buriram Airport as an international airport as well as add a new cargo terminal to the airport in order to attract more domestic and international airlines.
Buriram has been a favoured destination for sports fans due to the success of Buriram United and we can now add to that the Chang International Racing Circuit.
Big matches at the stadium, particularly Asian Champions League fixtures, have brought both youth and families to the province while local organisations had identified Buriram as a meeting and cultural destination due to 60 ancient castles there and six inactive volcanoes.
The view is that if Buriram Airport is promoted as an international airport with a cargo terminal and a customs office, it should attract more domestic and foreign airlines to operate flights there and it will result in an increase in tourists visiting the province.
At the moment, only Nok Air and Thai Air Asia use the airport and more than 80% of tourists travelling to the region are from other provinces.
If the airport were upgraded, other provinces in the lower North-East region such as Surin, Sisaket and Ubon Ratchathani could expect to attract more visitors, especially from South-East Asia.
A leading travel company owner in Nong Khai in the upper North-East of the country, said that most tourists visiting the province were from Vietnam, China, and South Korea. Also a large number of retired expats from Japan and Western countries live in the province and would welcome the upgrade.