Deputy Minister of Transport Atirat Rattanaset presided over the opening ceremony of the seminar that was focused on attaining and maintaining the highest standards of safety on the water in relation to tourist-related activities.
The seminar, held at the Pullman Hotel at Panwa Beach, was organised by the National Marine Department ahead of the full opening of the country on July 1 when the Thailand pass scheme is scrapped and more tourists are expected to arrive in the country, particularly in Phuket.
Mr Atirat explained that the Ministry of Transport and the Marine Department regards the safety of Thai citizens and tourists engaging in water-related activities as vitally important. Likewise, he added, it was imperative that safety standards reach those of an international standard to inspire confidence in those visiting Phuket.
Phuket is one of the most popular and busy destinations for tourists, Mr Atirat added, stating that the the island should serve as an exmaple for other provinces throughout the country in setting the bar on water safety standards.
Nachapong Pranit, Director of the Phuket Regional Harbour Office, echoed these sentiments, commenting that it was important to raise the standards of safety relating to all water based activities within the tourism sector to meet international standards in order to install confidence in tourists.
Lessons had to be learned from past accidents and disasters, Mr Nachapong added, pointing most notably to the Phoenix tour boat that overturned and sank in storm conditions south of Phuket in July 2018, killing 47 Chinese tourists.
He explained that innovative technology needs to be applied to boats to regulate, control and monitor activities and conditions in order to ensure the highest possible safety standards.
Furthermore, Mr Nachapong detailed how it was crucially important that all relevant stakeholders within government agencies, the private sector and water tour operators collaborate and cooperate in a transparent and focused manner.
It was also announced that, in an effort to raise awareness of safety standards on the water within the general public, the Marine Department has partnered with C Broadcasting Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of Thaicom Public Company Limited, to enable them to communicate appropriate messages and campaigns.
Following the seminar, Mr Atirat and Mr Nachapong visited the Andaman Traffic and Maritime Safety Center to carry out a safety inspection prior to the facility going fully functional and live on July 5.
Using modern technology and expert advice from air traffic experts which will be applied to the water transport system, the center covers the southern region of the Andaman coast, comprising six provinces of Phuket, Ranong, Phang Nga, Krabi, Trang and Satun.
The technology deployed to manage marine traffic allows officers at the center to locate and track ships using radar systems and automatic ship information display systems which will reduce the risk of accidents with ships colliding and allow for optimal safety on the waters to an internationally recognised standard.