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The Cabinet has approved a raft of upgrades to the Phuket Deep Sea Port in order to enable the facility to accommodate bigger cruise ships, and is also considering the construction of a similar port either in Krabi or on Koh Samui.
Following the Cabinet meeting today (July 28), Deputy Government Spokesperson Maj Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd disclosed that the ministers gave their approval to the plan to build more yacht and cruise ports in Thailand, with the aim being to increase connectivity with neighbouring countries and promote the Kingdom as a regional hub for sea transport, reported the National News Bureau of Thailand (NNT).
The news follows Phuket Governor Nisit Jansomwong announcing in January that the proposed expansion of the Deep Sea Port had received Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) approval from the Office of the National Environment Board – a development that cleared a major hurdle to the expansion, which had been held up for five years. (See story here.)
According to the Marine Department, Thailand currently has 11 yacht marinas, both in the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand, with a combined capacity of 2,000 boats. However, most of them can only welcome small-sized yachts, reported NNT.
The department also cited 33 additional areas as potential locations of yacht marinas and a survey is being conducted on the opinions of local residents in those areas, said the government report.
As for cruise ships, Gen Sansern noted that only the Bangkok Port, Laem Chabang Port and Phuket Deep Sea Port have the capacity to handle such large vessels. However, all three are mainly occupied by cargo ships.
“Therefore, the Cabinet was supportive of the upgrade of Phuket Deep Sea Port so as to attract more cruise ships and tourists, given the fact that Thailand is situated on the international cruise route,” NNT reported.
However, The Phuket News has learned that Genting Hong Kong Ltd, which operates the Star Cruises regional routes, ceased operating cruises to Phuket two weeks ago after the fleet’s flagship, the SuperStar Libra, was moved to its new home port in Xiamen, China.
Regardless, Gen Sansern revealed today that the government is also considering setting up a new cruise port in Krabi province, across Phang Nga Bay from Phuket, or on Koh Samui in the Gulf of Thailand, which cruise liners still pass en route to Bangkok.
The decision will be made depending on which location is more suitable, reported NNT.
Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha stressed that the decision of where to locate the new cruise port will have to be made by the end of September, NNT reported.