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Koh Samui to become cruise ship centre

19 July 2016 - Amornrat Mahitthirook, Bangkok Post

Authorities have decided to push ahead with plans to build a new cruise liner port on Samui island as part of the country’s efforts to turn itself into a regional marine hub.

Samui has been chosen by the Marine Department as the place with most potential to upscale its tourism services, which goes against the initial choice of Krabi as the proposed location, Deputy Transport Minster Ormsin Chivapruck said.

Samui, located off Surat Thani mainland in the Gulf of Thailand, and Krabi, which faces the Andaman Sea, were two destinations eyed by marine officials after they were asked by the government to conduct a feasibility study of new tourist ports.

The officials prefer Samui to Krabi, which has fewer attractions, Mr Ormsin said.

On Samui, which covers about 250 square kilometres, there are three scenic beaches — Chaweng, Taling Ngam and Lamai — as well as a waterfall.

Samui is popular for its natural attractions which draw both beach and sea lovers, especially those who come by luxury vessels as part of high-end tour packages.

Such travellers are known for their high purchasing power, Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said after the government last year announced plans to develop marinas and cruise liner ports to boost the country’s revenues through tourism.

About 100,000 cruise liner tourists visit Thailand each year, according to former Tourism and Sports deputy permanent secretary Kajorn Weerajai.

Early this year the government organised a Thailand Yacht Show to publicise the country as a marine hub.

Marina and cruise liner port projects have been also put on the government’s tourism development list.