New Yacht Marina Plan for Phuket

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The first hearing on the project to build a sport yacht marina on Phuket in Thailand, positioned as one of the new economic drivers of the province, the Green Port Marina project was announced at a public hearing July 31.

In an article written by Achadthaya Chuenniran and published in the Bangkok Post, it is reported the hearing was attended by local administrative organisations, state officials, companies and 100 residents from tambon Mai Khao of Thalang district, the proposed location of the Green Port Marina project.

Participants at the event, presided over by district chief Suvit Suriyawong, were briefed mainly on the environmental impact assessment (EIA) of the project which must be prepared. Given the nature of its business, an EIA is required under a Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment regulation. The effects of the project on the residents’ livelihoods and living conditions were also discussed.

Panya Songcharoen, the project officer, said the marina will cater to sport yachts and other types of leisure boats. The project will cover 130-140 rai, up to 90% of which is located on water within a cove developed to accommodate the mooring of more than 220 boats, from 10 metres to 70 metres long.

If and when the EIA is approved, construction of the marina is expected to begin early next year with a soft opening planned for the end of the year. However, the value of the investment is still being worked out, according to Mr Panya.

Marinas are one of the six sectors earmarked as new drivers of growth for Phuket, seen as being overly dependent on conventional tourism. The other sectors are education, health and wellness, tuna exports, seafood and gastronomy as well as sports and events businesses.

Experts agreed the sheer scale of economic damage to Phuket caused by the pandemic has revealed a systemic void in the province’s preparedness to mitigate a sudden nosedive in the conventional tourism industry.

According to the Phuket Industry Council, the province has five marinas, 38 seaports and one deep-sea port. About 1,500 yachts and cruise ships call at the province each year on average (prior to Covid-19). Mr Panya said the province could use more marinas as it is a world-class destination and strategically located to be an ideal stop for cruise ships and yachts.

Welcoming and servicing superyachts and yachts for the past dozen years, Asia Pacific Superyachts co-founder Gordon Fernandes applauded efforts by the government and others in being proactive, bringing forth new options for foreign-flag charter and owned vessels.

“It’s great to see the government taking the lead and actively encouraging superyachts to visit the stunning waters in Thailand. They’re also taking it one step further and making sure that superyachts have the facilities needed in order to ensure that any visit to the ‘land of smiles’ is smooth”, said Fernandes.

“Marinas are an important part of any superyacht visit as the yacht needs time before the owner’s arrival to make sure that they are prepared for guests. With more and more yachts wanting to visit, more marinas are needed to cater to these vessels”.

APS co-founder Captain Charlie Dwyer, based in Koh Samui and now skippering a superyacht on high seas added, “Thailand is a great destination for superyachts. Vessels can set off from one of Phuket’s marinas and journey east to the third largest island in the country, Koh Samui, then cruise to nearby Ang Thong National Marine Park. A pristine archipelago of 42 islands in the Gulf of Thailand, it features towering limestone mountains, thick jungle, white-sand beaches, waterfalls and hidden coves and lakes to explore with a protected area of more than 100 sq km of land and sea with a rich biodiversity.”