Marina tourism in the Gulf of Thailand is set to grow significantly as the government readies plans for seven new marinas. Scott Finsten, harbour master of Ocean Marina Yacht Club Pattaya, said the new marina projects will be built along the east and west coasts.
Targeted locations are Chumphon, Trat and Sattahip district in Chonburi, as well as on Koh Samui and in Prachuap Khirikhan.
But development is subject to further study, and some projects may be built by the private sector. Mr Finsten says there are four marinas operating in the country, three of which are in the Gulf of Thailand: Ocean Marina Yacht Club Pattaya, Siam Royal View Koh Chang and Racer Marina in Pranburi, with a total capacity of 615 berths. Phuket in the Andaman Sea has 736 berths.
Mr Finsten said the government aims to promote Thailand as a hub of marine tourism in Southeast Asia by investing in the Thailand Riviera project in the gulf at an estimated cost of 7 billion THB.
He pointed out that Pattaya on the eastern gulf coast is now able to link with Hua Hin on the west coast via ferry service, making Pattaya a travel hub on the east coast.
Pattaya is also growing as a business hub because of the government’s Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) scheme.
Mr Finsten said the marine industry on the east coast is picking up steam, with charter and day trips up 20% year-on-year and the number of new boats sold up 10%.
“International yachts visiting the area are also increasing after the government allowed yacht visitors to stay 12 months per visit, up from less than six months in the past,” he said.
Thailand has more marina berths than Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia combined. The cost of rental, maintenance and services is also lower in Thailand. With about 30% lower expense, Thailand has a chance to become a marine tourism hub in the region, Mr Finsten said.
Ocean Marina Yacht Club Pattaya is investing 100 million THB to increase the number of berths for yachts.
“At Ocean Marina Yacht Club Pattaya, we are investing about 100 million THB in expanding berth capacity and services, which will be completed in August this year,” he said. “Once completed, we will be able to cater to the increased demand by raising berths by 15% from 380 currently to 440 berths.”
Ocean Marina said it invests more than 10 million THB each year to host the Ocean Marina Pattaya Boat Show, a key platform to boost business and tourism in the region.
Last year’s 7th Ocean Marina Pattaya Boat Show generated more than 2 billion THB for the industry.