PHUKET: Thailand’s Cabinet has given the green light to the improvement of Phuket Deep Seaport to enable the facility to accommodate bigger cruise ships while also considering the construction of a similar port in Krabi or Samui.
Following the Cabinet meeting, Deputy Government Spokesperson Maj Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd disclosed that the ministers gave their approval to the plan to build more yacht and cruise ports in Thailand, with the aim being to increase connectivity with neighboring countries and promote the Kingdom as a regional hub for sea transport.
According to the Marine Department, Thailand currently has 11 yacht marinas, both in the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand, with a combined capacity of 2000 boats.
Nonetheless, most of them can only welcome small-sized yachts.
The department also cited 33 additional areas as potential locations of yacht marinas and a survey is being conducted on the opinions of local residents in those areas.
As for cruise ships, Maj Gen Sansern noted that only the Bangkok Port, Laem Chabang Port and Phuket Deep Seaport have the capacity to handle such large vessels.
However, all three are mainly occupied by cargo ships.
Therefore, the Cabinet was supportive of the upgrade of Phuket Deep Seaport so as to attract more cruise ships and tourists, given the fact that Thailand is situated on the international cruise route.
In addition, the Deputy Government Spokesperson revealed that the government is considering setting up a new cruise port in Krabi province or Samui Island of Surat Thani province, depending on which location is more suitable.
The Prime Minister emphasized that the decision will have to be made by the end of September.
Phuketwan News Analysis
Phuketwan believes a decision to redevelop Phuket’s Deep Sea Port is long overdue.
Earlier this month, a cruise company that has been sending a ship to Phuket once a week for 10 years opted to give up on the holiday island.
Why? Well they figured it was impossible to compete against cargo vessels that took priority at the pathetically small port.
The fixtures for passengers arriving on Phuket via luxury ships have been and remain appalling.
It’s disappointing that the island’s five-star passengers – those arriving through Phuket International Airport as well as at the port – are mostly greeted by taxi drivers who charge excessive fares.
Vendors and hawkers who greet the liners at shabby 1960’s stalls also charge excessive prices.
The failings of the Phuket facility have been evident for years. It’s good that the military government has finally recognised the yawning deficiency and acted to fix the problem.
The question must be asked: why has it taken so long and how much more pain must Phuket experience before authorities are forced to act to correct the holiday island’s other major problems?