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Heritage city of Ayutthaya wants to become a shopping destination

Ayutthaya City Park promoters hope that the expansion and upgrade of their mall will position Ayutthaya as a shopping destination.

AYUTTHAYA- Thailand former capital city of Ayuttahya is well known from international travellers as a historical and heritage destination, especially since the inception of the city as a World Heritage Site back to 1994. Centuries-old temples and sanctuaries, ruins of old palaces make Ayutthaya a popular destination, particularly for a one-day excursion out of Bangkok. In 2011, Ayutthaya recorded 484,621 arrivals in commercial accommodation, including 69,000 foreign arrivals. A number down however by 16.5% over 2010 due to the torrential flooding of late 2011. In a normal year, some 600,000 tourists come to the city.

But Ayutthaya has also ambitions to become a Ayutthaya Park. The developer of the city’s largest shopping mall, the Ayutthaya Park, is now spending one billion baht (310 million US dollars) to expand the 105,000 m2 shopping centre to serve growing demand in the ancient capital.

Once the expansion is completed in March next year, the complex will be renamed Ayutthaya City Park and be positioned as a lifestyle and leisure centre for the upper Central region, explained last April managing director Pranee Danchaiviroj to Thailand’s daily the Bangkok Post.

The centre was opened 15 years ago and welcomes currently 53,000 shoppers on average every day. Once the expansion completed, the shopping complex will comprise a surface of 145,000 m2, over 400 shops while 80,000 customers are expected. “The big investment to expand our shopping mall is to respond to an increase in people’s buying power after the growth of the city and industrial estates,” Ms Pranee said. Ayutthaya’s economy is expanding rapidly with its GPP year now the fourth highest in the Kingdom.

Additional spaces will also integrate new functions such as green areas, lifestyle areas. A semi-open space will welcome events and concerts while a brand-new 2,000 m2 convention centre and a hotel will turn the City Park into a MICE destination as well for Thailand Northern Central region.

Ayutthaya City Park investors believe strongly into the destination as new transport infrastructure are being developed or planned: Three motorways are planned linking Ayutthaya – Nakhon Ratchasima, Ayutthaya- Nakhon Sawan and a city highway serving the metropolitan area of Ayutthaya. The extension of the tollway Bangkok-Rangsit up to Ayutthaya would also shorten the driving time to 45 minutes.

The planned construction of a high speed train with Bangkok linked with the possible hosting for Thailand of a World Expo in Ayutthaya in 2020 are also boosting interest for the destination. With offices and upper class housing, Ayutthaya City Park’s area wants to become the city’s trendy urban life centreCompletion is expected by March 2014.

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Luc Citrinot a French national is a freelance journalist and consultant in tourism and air transport with over 20 years experience. Based in Paris and Bangkok, he works for various travel and air transport trade publications in Europe and Asia.