ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Photo misrepresents Thai air traffic
That has frustrated both airlines and the management of Suvarnabhumi Airport, the country's gateway, where it is business as usual and flood prevention defences are said to be very strong.
They point fingers at the media, particularly international news outlets, which have made insufficient effort to tell their audiences that Thailand has two airports and that the main one is still functioning normally.
"As long as [the media] flash images of planes stranded at Don Mueang, and don't clearly state that the main airport, Suvarnabhumi, is functioning, then we will see more and more visitors shying away, adding insult to injury," said Somchai Sawasdeepon, senior executive vice-president of Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT).
Executives of Centara Hotels & Resorts, one of Thailand's largest hospitality operators, agreed that most people outside Thailand were not aware that the flooding affected only Don Mueang. However, they said that Asian tourists were already shifting to other countries and European tourists were postponing trips to unaffected areas including Phuket, Samui, Krabi and Chiang Mai.
They complained that the government, the Tourism Authority of Thailand and the Ministry of Tourism and Sports were not doing enough to dispel the misconception.
He took journalists to inspect the flood prevention facilities at the airport on Friday. However, many photographers chose positions that resulted in images of aircraft approaching and taking off above the reservoir adjacent to the airport. Those pictures were widely circulated over the weekend.
There are 3.5-metre-high polder dykes surrounding the airport. Construction of the dykes started in 1995 and was completed in 2000, which has made them very strong and capable of preventing the penetration of water.
Last week, the Department of Highways drilled the dykes to test their strength and found them to be highly secure and very capable of preventing water from the outside, if the water level is less than 3.5 metres high, he noted.
Furthermore, Mr Somchai said Suvarnabhumi had a high-standard water-management system, with drainage canals all around the site to drain water into the reservoirs, which have capacity to store 4 million cubic metres of water -four times the volume they contain now.
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