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Drones May Jumpstart Thailand’s Economy In Many Sectors

Drones May Jumpstart Thailand’s Economy In Many Sectors

Experts predict commercial drones will drive significant growth in Thailand’s economy by providing key services in several industries.

Source: The Nation Thailand

Commercial drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are set to offer significant opportunities for the Thai economy thanks to their crucial role in several industries, experts say. Manu Leopairote, Chair of GML Exhibition (Thailand), said the commercial drone industry was valued at US$20.8 billion (THB 761.5 billion) in 2021 and is expected to reach US$1.2 trillion by 2030.

Citing a market forecast by Straits Research, he said the industry is expected to grow 14% annually from 2022 to 2030. This exponential growth is attributed to drones’ superior flight speed, durability, strength and precision, leading to their expanding applications in agriculture, energy, construction, logistics, filmmaking, sports, environment, security and disaster relief.

“Drone usage is increasingly significant in several industries as it helps reduce human labour and increases trade advantages, such as checking warehouse inventory, cultivating plants and capturing aerial photos and videos,” Manu said.

To support the drone industry’s growth, the DronTech Asia 2024 exhibition will be held at the Impact Exhibition and Convention Centre in Bangkok from 25-27 November 2024. The event will showcase the capabilities and benefits of drones and Southeast Asia’s growing leadership in the sector. He said he expects the exhibition to attract more than 100 companies and over 5,000 visitors worldwide.

The event will create new opportunities for local and international drone-related companies to connect with end users, system integrators, customers and business influencers,” he added.

Preesan Rakwatin, Executive Vice President of the Digital Economy Promotion Agency’s Digital Transformation Promotion Unit, said that promoting drone technology is part of the government’s plan to upgrade national digital capability to enhance the country’s competitiveness. He added the agency recently launched the One Tambon One Digital project, which aims to boost farmers’ skills in operating and maintaining drones for agriculture. 

“The department also supports the industry’s transformation towards using advanced drones for maintenance services, spraying and distribution,” Preesan said. 

He expects 50 drone maintenance service centres to be established within a year, encouraging villagers in 500 communities nationwide to adopt drone technologies. This project is expected to generate at least THB 350 million, he added. However, Thailand needs to address regulatory issues to support future drone use, said Chatchai Puntragul, Manager of the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT)’s Unmanned Aircraft Standards Department.

He explained that the department is working on regulations to support drone usage in line with international standards, including drone certification and registration, pilot training centres and pilot licensing. He also emphasised the importance of differentiating drone categories to prevent an impact on the aviation sector, such as damaging aircraft and putting people’s lives in danger.

According to CAAT, drones can be classified into three categories:

  • Open category: Drones for recreation or photography purposes that do not require prior permission
  • Specific category: Drones used for surveillance, aerial work or transport of goods that require permission to ensure safety
  • Certified category: Remotely piloted aircraft systems for manned aviation or cargo transport that need authorisation at every stage, similar to real aircraft

“If we can align with the global drone industry developments, it could greatly benefit the Thai economy,” Chatchai said.



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