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New port in Phuket to boost marine tourism

Bangkok, Thailand – The prospects of attracting more cruises, yachts and inter-island ferries to Phuket, Thailand`s most popular beach resort, have…

Bangkok, Thailand<.> – The prospects of attracting more cruises, yachts and inter-island ferries to Phuket, Thailand`s most popular beach resort, have received a major boost with the opening of a vastly-improved modern seaport at Chalong Bay.

Chalong Port is now Phuket`s second largest port but the main gateway for arrivals by sea. Opened by Deputy Prime Minister H.E. Pongpol Adireksarn on October 5, 2001, it replaces the former small pier which lacked proper facilities necessary to accommodate a higher level of marine tourism.

The 147 million baht budget was mostly provided via a low-interest loan from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), formerly known as the Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund (OECF).

The port was one of the projects proposed by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) under the Japanese-funded Social Investment Project to alleviate the impact of the 1997 Asian economic crisis. Construction work, started in July 1999, and was carried out by Italian-Thai Development PCL.

Located in Chalong Municipality, Muang District, about 11 kilometres south of Phuket, the port is owned and operated by the Chalong Municipal Administration Agency. This is in line with the government`s policy to decentralise authority to local agencies and give local people more responsibility to manage projects in their own communities.

The port has a 720-metre-long and seven-metre-wide jetty, two pontoons (piers for larger boats and ships) and gangways (bridges linking the main bridge to the piers), one fuel station, and a service and office building.

It also has a number of visitor facilities like restaurants, shops, parking lot for tour buses, tourist information centre and open- air waiting rooms.

During the Phuket Tourism Workshop between October 6-7, 2001, executives of tourism-related public and private agencies discussed a number of additional infrastructure projects in Phuket to promote cruising and yachting around the southern provinces of the Andaman sea.

These included the establishment of a one- stop service centre at Chalong Port to provide fast and efficient customs and immigration facilities, one more marine- tourism port at Por Bay and the establishment of some kind of commercial enterprise to sell spare parts for all kinds of marine vessels and crafts at zero or low duty charges.

Phuket`s primary port is the Deep Sea Port located at Makham Bay which is mainly used to accommodate large commercial cargo ships.

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