Thailand has devised a tourism development plan for the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) with a five-year public and private budget of about Bt200 billion.Tourist numbers are expected to surge by 1.5 times within 2021, Kalin Sarasin, chairman of the Board of Trade of Thailand who also chaired the Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking (JSCCIB), said after the meeting yesterday.
He added that in the first eight months of this year, Thailand registered a 9.9-per-cent rise in the number of foreign tourists, totalling 25.89 million.
The JSCCIB also raised its forecast for this year’s economic growth to 4.4 to 4.8 per cent from its earlier estimate of 4.3 to 4.8 per cent. The committee also increased its projection for 2018 Thai export growth to 8-10 per cent from 7-10 per cent.
Meanwhile, there are concerns about the US-China trade dispute, which is expected to escalate, the JSCCIB said. It expects this issue to have a direct and indirect impact on the Thai economy, investment and trade next year.
Kalin, who is also a member of the committee for qualitative tourism in the EEC, added that the planned tourism development would be done by the province, focusing on provincial strength and uniqueness in the hope of upgrading Thai tourism to the global stage.
Chon Buri province will develop various traditional and modern tourist destinations, covering cultural, natural, soft adventure to recreational tourism. Most of the places will fit travel for groups, families and working people.
“Tourism development in the EEC is a perfect mix of business and a modern tourist city. Pattaya will be the most important destination for tourism in the East. There will be a high-speed railway, parking lots for interchange to high-speed railway and light rail, which will connect North and South Pattaya. An area is also being planned to serve as MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferencing and Exhibitions) City in new Pattaya,” Kalin said. Bang Saen will be developed as a training centre for tourism.
The Pattaya on Pier project at Laem Bali Hai will become the country’s new landmark, similar to San Francisco’s Pier 39. The end of Bali Hai will serve as a pier and a port for cruise ships.
“Billions of baht will be invested in the Pattaya on Pier project on a plot of state land through public-private partnership. The government will give land concession and the private sector will invest. This project will have restaurants, an outdoor stage for concerts and markets for local products and crafts,” Kalin said.
Another EEC province, Rayong, will be become a BIZ City, which will stand out as a main industrial area and attract investors interested in business-oriented tourism, while preserving the local lifestyle including fisheries, the charming coast and abundant seafood and orchards.
Chachoengsao province will have a Thai Way of Life City, which will be tended by locals who are linked by a river with historical and religious tourist attractions and a 100-year-old floating market.
Kalin said that about Bt200 billion would be invested by both the public and private sectors for tourism in the EEC areas within five years. Total investment in the EEC is estimated at Bt1.7 trillion.
By 2021, the EEC is projected to see the number of tourists rise 1.5 times to 46.72 million, with income increasing 1.8 times to Bt528 billion. Currently, about 29.89 million tourists visit the EEC areas, generating about Bt285 billion income.
“Now, the EEC and Ministry of Tourism and Sports have teamed up with CLMV [Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam] to connect their tourist attractions through the development of transportation infrastructure by rail, road and air,” Kalin said.