Thanongsak Somwong, a member of the council's committee on the Gulf of Thailand and president of Koh Samui Tourism Promotion Association, called on the government to develop a state-owned airport. The island currently has a private airport which has drawn complaints of a monopoly.
Mr Thanongsak said Koh Samui earns almost 30 billion baht in tourism revenue each year so a state-run international airport would increase the number of flights, low-cost airlines or chartered flights and direct flights from overseas. With more flights, the island will see a rise in tourist numbers at all levels and would help lift tourism revenue to 50-60 billion baht a year.
The council raised the issue with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who is touring southern provinces and joined a meeting to discuss problems on Koh Samui.
Council president Piyaman Techapaiboon said it will ask the premier to consider accelerating the appointment of a tourism development committee to promote the miracle of having two oceans in the south, as it is a sector with high potential for development.
The council also wants to see the bus concessions boosted and to improve routes by allowing buses to depart from the actual tourism destinations.
A total of 13.3 million tourists visited the Andaman side generating over 200 billion baht in revenue, up 60% from 2011. However, there were only 5.4 million visitors to the Gulf of Thailand side, creating about 41 billion baht of revenue.
Meanwhile, more tourists are looking to find new destinations on the Gulf of Thailand side especially in destinations with natural and cultural conservation so there should be integration of tourism of both sides to increase the length of stay of tourists in Thailand.