Under a comprehensive Master Plan prepared by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, the provinces of Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chumphon and Ranong will be upgraded to tap their full potential for natural, cultural, historical, gastronomic, sports and community-based tourism, said a release issued on Tuesday (June 26).
“The Thai government and related agencies will be closely involved in all aspects of tourism management, conservation and restoration in line with the policy direction of the National Tourism Development Plan to more equitably distribute income nationwide, upgrade the rural areas, provide them better accessibility, and improve facilities and services for visitors,” the release said.
The Master Plan shows that the four provinces have diverse tourism assets, as follows:
- 25 national parks and water parks;
- 528km of coastline;
- 37 beaches, 10 bays, and 25 islands;
- 70 Royal Projects and Royal Initiatives;
- 6 community-based tourism projects.
Man-made attractions include several golf courses, theme parks, numerous community malls/outlets and a variety of Sports Tourism facilities for triathlons, marathons, swimming, biking, mountain climbing and canoeing.
The announcement follows Tourism and Sports Minister Weerasak Kowsurat meeting with Prachuap Khiri Khan Vice Governor Chotenarin Kerdsom, Phetchaburi Vice Governor Somchai Bumrungsap and representatives from various government agencies on June 13 to move ahead with the next steps.
Minister Weerasak stressed that the entire development process must be implemented in a comprehensive, coordinated manner that pays equal attention to economic and ecological issues.
Citing developments for Hua Hin as an example, it was noted that infrastructure development will be especially important to ensure proper fresh water supply and prevent water conflicts between the agriculture and tourism sectors. The platform of the Hua Hin Railway Station, a local heritage site dating back to the days when it was used by members of the Royal Family visiting the Mrigadayavan Summer Palace of King Vajiravudh (Rama VI), will be upgraded to reflect its unique design and architecture.
The plan also mentions opportunities for visitors to enjoy the local seafood, adventure activities and ecotourism, and the development of night markets, especially for local artists to showcase their works.
Specific niche-market projects will include development of the Thailand Riviera as a “Global Health Tourism Hub”, organisation of world-class sporting events for golf, tennis, shopping festivals, and world-class summer education courses.
The plan has long been in the cards, but implementation was delayed due to successive changes in governments. It was originally approved by the Thai Cabinet on Feb 7, 2006, and again on Aug 26, 2014, when the Ministry of Tourism and Sports was given the responsibility of executing the plan in an integrated and coordinated matter.
Under the current Prayut Chan-ocha Government, the plan was again approved on Mar 6 this year at the mobile Cabinet meeting in Phetchaburi province.
One important part of the project has been construction of a scenic 680km highway from Bangkok, which runs directly along the coastline. The highway, which will include bike lanes, is expected to be completed in five years. About 200km have been completed. A 49km stretch is under construction.
In 2017, the four provinces received a total of 14,023,347 Thai and foreign visitors, a rise of 4.52% year-on-year. The average expenditure per trip per person was B5,141, generating an estimated B72.105bn in tourism income (+8.85% year-on-year).
On June 1 this year, Tourism Minister Weerasak also enlisted the support of the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) in a meeting with UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili. The UNWTO has undertaken to provide technical and marketing support, noted the TAT.
Minister Weerasak also noted that the Riviera project will have nationwide benefits thanks to the launched ferry service from Hua Hin to Pattaya, which has cut travelling time by more than six hours between the West and East coasts of the Gulf of Thailand, said the release.