Mr Somsak Pureesrisak, Thailand’s Minister of Tourism and Sports pledged last week to push forward the 100-million-baht [$A3.3m] plan to expand Phuket’s port facility.
The Minister told reporters during a visit to Phuket with Tourism of Thailand [TAT] Governor Suraphon Svetasreni, that he would raise the issue with Thailand’s Minister of Transportation.
The plans to expand the port so it can berth two large cruise liners simultaneously, are reported to have been delayed for two years, it appears for failing to pass the required environmental impact assessment [EIA] evaluation.
Chaophaya Terminal International Co Ltd Director, Sophon Muangprathub, which has the government concession to operate Songkhla and Phuket Ports and Phuket’s Marine Office Chief Phuripat Theerakulpisut, urged the Minister to push forward the project and explained how much Phuket needed the port to be developed.
Mr Sophon explained that the project includes extending the dock by 60 meters, so two large ships can berth at the same time, as well as building new facilities to receive tourists disembarking and also expanding the parking lots at the site, adding that it would take no more than 13 months to complete the project once it passed its EIA requirements.
He explained that the Deep Sea Port was originally designed to serve cargo ships only, with the dock 360 meters long, which can only accommodate two ships at the same time, no longer than 173 meters long, adding, “The problem is that bigger ships are now coming to the port, especially cruise liners, with so far the biggest one has been 270 meters long, which does not leave enough room for another ship.”
He added that cruise liners were given priority to dock at the port, even if it meant forcing a cargo ship that was halfway through loading or unloading to move offshore, adding, “the port is currently not able to support Phuket tourism to the best of its ability and the facility needs to be developed”.
The Minister agreed with the plan presented to him, saying, “Phuket needs support so more cruise liners can dock here and stay for more than just a day trip.”
“We have to identify which departments we must discuss this with so we can push forward the plan.”
“On May 10, I have a meeting with the Minister of Transportation, and this plan will be raised.”
News courtesy of www.etravelblackboardasia.com