Thailand is looking past the pandemic and pushing ahead with a 290 billion baht ($9.4 billion) “airport city” aimed at creating a destination for travel and manufacturing, according to the head of the project.

The plan is to expand U-Tapao International Airport in Rayong Province, where much of Thailand’s automotive and petrochemical companies have plants and factories. In recent years, the airport brought in tourists from places such as China and Russia to the seaside city of Pattaya.

“It’ll be the core of a new growth center and a hub for logistics and tourism,” said Kanit Sangsubhan, secretary general of the Eastern Economic Corridor Office, which oversees the project spanning 1,040 hectares (2,570 acres). When completed, it will handle 60 million passengers and 3 million tons of cargo yearly, making U-Tapao one of the nation’s three largest airports.

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