THAILAND is stepping up support for the cruise and yacht sectors as part of its plans to make the country a maritime hub in South-east Asia, a senior government official told TTG Asia e-Daily.
“We are doing a study at the moment” said Chula Sukmanop, director-general of Thailand’s Marine Department on plans to grow the leisure boating sector. “We are going to send (the report) to the cabinet by December.”
The study involves looking into building new marinas in different sites such as Koh Samui, Krabi and Trat in Thailand, he added.
The government will take a hands-off approach in this endeavour, leaving construction to the private sector, who will be incentivised by an investment promotion package including tax breaks, according to Chula.
The Marine Department had recently allowed foreign yachts and large sports boats to service tourists in Thailand. Supplementing the focus on the super-yacht sector are also plans to change immigration, revenue and customs rules to enable yachts and their staff to stay for a year, he added.
A longer-term plan is to develop the cruising industry, where the lack of infrastructure remains a serious roadblock. According to Chula, there are plans to locate a terminal in Krabi on the Andaman Coast and another in Koh Samui for the Gulf of Thailand.
Welcoming the government’s plans, Andy Treadwell, managing director of yacht events company SYE, said: “There is definitely a lack of marinas in key places like Koh Samui and the west and southern coasts of Phuket.”