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Thailand to launch free WiFi for tourists

travel Updated: Sep 29, 2012 11:20 IST
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The government of Thailand announced last week that it was extending internet coverage so that the more than 19 million international tourists who visit the country annually will be able to access free WiFi across the state.

The government of Thailand has unveiled a program under the name ‘ICT Free Wi-Fi for Tourism' to install high-speed internet at 1,615 hotspots in the main tourist attractions across the country. The government said the program will start soon, without giving a specific date.

Around 15 percent of the routers (253) will be installed in the country's capital Bangkok, 446 in the central region which surrounds the capital, 201 in the eastern region bordering Cambodia, 323 in the southern region where the popular Phuket island is located, 325 in the northern region between Myanmar and Laos, and 67 in the less touristy northeastern region.

The aim of the program is to promote the economy through tourism, one of the country's biggest economic motors. According to Thai Travel News website, in 2011 Thailand received a record number of 19,098,323 international tourists, 19.84 percent more than in 2010, most of them coming from Malaysia (2.47 million), China (1.76 million) and Japan (1.12 million).

Last month, the city of Pattaya, one of the most popular beach resorts among international tourists, signed a contract with internet provider True Corporation to install 1000 routers in the main tourist districts in the city.

Pattaya receives around 5.5 million tourists a year, 70 percent of whom are foreigners. According to Mayor Itthiphol Khunplome these tourists stay an average of three days and use 30 minutes of internet at a time.