He told press yesterday morning (June 3) that he and the French city’s deputy mayor discussed tourism, education, business and culture.
He noted that there were distinct similarities between Nice and Phuket. “Nice attracts more than 10 million tourists a year and is a beach destination. It also attracts cruise ships. So we have a lot in common.
“There may be a possibility, in the future, of direct flights between Phuket and Nice, and I would certainly support that.
“As for education, I would like to see more training and schools [in Phuket] teaching French language so that we have more people to look after French tourists.”
He also saw potential in the leisure marine industry for investors from Nice. “Phuket has lots of yachts and we have marinas, and French investors [from Nice] are interested in investing in this industry. Nice has a significant marina, and Phuket can emulate this.”
As for culture, he said that Nice had in the past hosted a Thai walking street with Thai food and crafts for sale, and the French city would be willing to host other events promoting Thai culture.
The French Riviera is a major tourism centre, not only internationally, but also domestically, with Paris emptying in August as Parisians head Nice and other towns on the country’s Mediterranean coast.
It is also one of the world’s leading yachting and cruising areas. The Côte d’Azur Economic Development Agency claims that each year the Riviera hosts 50 per cent of the world’s superyacht fleet, with 90 per cent of all superyachts visiting the region’s coast “at least once in their lifetime”.
Phuket currently has a shortage of facilities for superyachts, which can moor only at Yacht Haven and Ao Por marinas. The even larger megayachts have to drop anchor in deeper waters off the island’s coast.
Phuket has a rather eclectic group of twin city agreements that includes Xian and Hainan in China; the fishing port of Nakhodka in the Russian Far East; Hyogo Prefecture in Japan (known for its port and heavy industry); and Las Vegas.
The benefits of these twinning agreements have never been very clear.