JEDDAH: Thailand is preparing for more tourist arrivals from Saudi Arabia following an announcement that direct flights will resume to the Southeast Asian country.
Saudia will restart flights on Feb. 28, saying on social media that Bangkok was “closer than ever.”
It comes after both countries turned a new page in their relationship with a restoration of full diplomatic ties and a planned exchange of ambassadors after Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s official state visit to Riyadh last month.
Saudia previously suspended all direct flights to Thailand almost three decades ago after diplomatic ties between both countries were downgraded.
The route will open three months earlier than the previously announced start time in May, with the first flight leaving King Khalid International Airport early Monday morning.
More direct flights have been scheduled for the following days, according to the airline's website.
In a previous interview with Arab News, Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya, deputy governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, said that while the pandemic situation made it difficult to predict how many Saudis would visit the country, authorities wanted to build on two outstanding areas that could attract travelers: Medical tourism and shopping.
The Thai government has estimated that the increase in visitors from the Kingdom will generate an additional $150 million for its economy.
Saudia recently announced the launch of 10 new destinations with direct flights.
Those destinations are: Bangkok, Chicago, Barcelona, Malaga, Marrakesh, Moscow, Beijing, Seoul, Amsterdam, and Entebbe.