Major plans revealed for Ao Phuket

PHUKET CITY (Gazette, Nation): After a lull of 10 months, the Ao Phuket development project – a plan to build a mini-city on reclaimed land in the bay off Saphan Hin, is once again gathering momentum. Plans include a convention and exhibition center, and a casino.

Today at a meeting at Phuket Provincial Hall. chaired by the Interior Ministry Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Rajatin Syamananda, Gov Udomsak Uswarangkura said that three main investors are working on plans for large projects in Ao Phuket.

At some 130 billion baht, the most spectacular proposal has come from Japanese urban developer and shoreline construction specialist Umezawa Tadao, with Thai partner Architect Co, who have announced plans to build what they are calling Phuket Bay International City.

The project designers envisage five phases: a spaceship-shaped structure called Anabasis, which will contain a 2,000-room hotel and a convention center; a lotus-shaped resort called Marina City; The Tower, which will include hotel rooms and office space; Sport World, featuring international-level sports facilities; and Good Luck Island – the casino. All of these would be built with protection against tsunamis in mind.

The second-largest plan, weighing in at 70 billion baht, has come from Bangkok-based conglomerate Ital-Thai, which proposes a 2,000-rai island development designed as a village with a marina, condominiums and a golf course.

Tongkah Harbour Pcl also has plans for a project, mostly revolving around yachts and cruising. Details and budget have yet to be revealed.

Gov Udomsak added that interest in joining in the Ao Phuket frenzy has been expressed by companies in China.

The positive point of all this, he said, is that Phuket as a whole will reap the benefits but 95% to 100% of the investment will come from the private sector.

Asked whether he felt a casino would be of benefit, Gov Udomsak told the Gazette, “We would need to wait for the government policy to go through the public hearing process, and for laws to be revised before [this could be built].”

He added, “A casino is the last priority of the Ao Phuket project. My suggestion is that we build other entertainment venues before looking at the possibility of a casino.”

In the past, proposals by the central government for an international convention and exhibition center (ICEC) in the Saphan Hin or Ao Phuket areas have raised the ire of Phuket City politicians.

The politicians have pointed out that all traffic between the airport and the ICEC would have to find its way through the city’s narrow streets, causing serious traffic problems.

Today, however, Deputy Mayor Kawee Tansukatanon was restrained, saying only, “The Municipality will need to look at the basics of these projects, such as water treatment systems, water supply, a bridge across the mangrove forest to the island and the capacity of our garbage incinerator.

“All of those issues must be examined to ensure that infrastructure and services will be able to handle these projects.”

In Bangkok on Tuesday, at a ceremony organized by the Thai Longstay Management Corp (TLM), Umezawa and its Thai partners, along with 19 other companies, signed memoranda of understanding (MOUs) supporting the government’s plans to provide quality services to foreigners who spend months in Thailand every year.

TLM, which was set up in 2001, will work with related organizations to provide a full range of services to long-stay visitors, including mobile phones, long-stay ID cards, 24 tourist TV channels in major languages, a Japanese tourist center, a Chinese tourist center and an international call center.

Other organizations that signed MOUs with TLM on Tuesday included Rama IX Hospital, TOT Plc, the Bank of Ayudhya, the Tourist Police, the Thai Hotels Association, the Association of Thai Travel Agents and Advance Info Service Plc.

Phuket News
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