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Envoy: Thailand interested in direct air connection with Czechs

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Praha, Aug 30 (CTK) – Thailand is interested in establishing a direct air link between Bangkok and Prague and the tourism between the two countries has a stable or even growing trend, Czech ambassador to Thailand Marek Libricky told CTK on Wednesday.

The fact that Thailand is a stable country, relatively safe for tourists, contributes to this, Libricky said.

“According to Thailand’s data, roughly 43,000 Czechs annually travel to Thailand and 50,000 Thais to the Czech Republic, although there are no direct flights,” he added.

“There is a potential for further growth if the direct link is introduced,” Libricky said.

He said talks were conducted on the introduction of direct flights between Bangkok and Prague by an unspecified Thai airline.

The decision to establish the link is economically substantiated, Libricky said.

“It is often said that if an air link is to be profitable, the minimum of 30,000 people in both ways are necessary,” he added.

The tourism between the Czech Republic and Thailand meets the condition, Libricky said.

Besides, the new link could accept some passengers who now travel to Thailand from Munich or Vienna.

Libricky said Thailand was a relatively safe country for tourists. Although there are some reports on bomb attacks, they are caused by militants from southern Thailand and they have local targets.

“This cannot be compared with attacks in other countries,” he added.

The stability in the country was also helped by the military coup in 2014 which ended the time of mass demonstrations and riots, Libricky said.

The ban on assembly is still valid in the country, but this is not supposed to affect tourists provided they avoid political involvement, he added.

“Thais themselves are aware of the importance of tourism for them, making their most to reduce the impact [of a political turmoil] on tourists,” Libricky said.

The state mourning declared after the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej last year and which is still observed only has a limited impact on tourism, he added.

There is only the recommendation that people should prefer clothes with dark colours, Libricky said.

New opportunities are opening for Czech companies in Thailand in connection with the prepared strategy of national development there, he added.

Czechs should start perceiving the Asian country also differently than just a tourist destination.

Trade with Thailand can also serve to Czech companies as a springboard to other countries in the region of Southeast Asia.

“We want to modify the image on both sides. The Czech Republic is a tourist destination, Thailand is a tourist destination. We are trying to somewhat change this and to see Thailand as a business country, too,” Libricky said.

He said Thailand was for the Czech Republic the most important trade partner from the ASEAN countries.

Last year, Czech companies imported the goods for 3.5 billion crowns from Thailand and imported goods for 30 billion crowns from there, Libricky said.

Now the Czech companies are having a chance of increasing the export. Thailand is drafting a national development strategy for the next 20 years which is to be binding for all the governments to follow, too, he added.

Energy is one of the promising fields for investments in Thailand, Libricky said.

“Thais need to change the composition of their energy mix, speaking about diversification,” he added.

“In their case, there are not only renewable sources, but also coal,” Libricky said.

In this case, Czech companies can offer their experience not only with the construction of coal-powered power plants, but also with the limitation of the environmental impact of their operation, he added.

“We have the technologies that will help dispel the public’s fears that have appeared. The construction of a coal-powered plant was stopped because people were afraid of air pollution,” Libricky said.

Czech companies can also be useful in the investments in Thailand’s transport infrastructure and rolling stocks.

“Three to four Thai towns are thinking of introducing trams. There are negotiations with our companies there,” Libricky said.

There are also opportunities in the deliveries of air controlling systems and for the mining industry.

Besides, Thailand can become a gate to the region for Czech companies because it has very good relations with its neighbours, Libricky said.

This is why along with Thai firms, Czech companies can invest in Laos, Burma or Cambodia, which would simplify the financing of investments and ease access to the local target.

The economic relations are complicated by the EU having interrupted the talks on a free trade agreement with Thailand, Libricky said.

“We are certainly losing our position there because Thailand has started negotiating on free trade with Turkey. Russia is filling the open space we have freed. This is why our companies will lose something of their competitiveness,” he added.

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