New ports to be developed for popular island gateways north of Phuket

PHUKET: The Marine Department on Friday announced plans to develop two major seaports at Phang Nga jump-off points to the popular Similan and Surin islands.

“Our aim is to promote sustainable tourism for Phang Nga’s Andaman islands. We also want to promote it as another diving location,” said Marine Office 5 Director Wichai Khamkong.

The news follows two public hearings led by Marine Department Director-General Sorasak Saensombat on February 10 and 11 at the Thap Lamu and Khura Buri ports.

“Thap Lamu is a major gateway for visitors to the Similan Islands. Khura Buri is the gateway to the Surin Islands,” Mr Wichai said.

The ports were first built for local use only, said Mr Wichai. Over time, they have become overloaded in the effort to serve both locals and tourists.

“The new ports will be safer and more convenient for all parties involved.”

The Marine Department has hired experts from Khon Kaen University to undertake feasibility studies for the development of the ports. The research and development plans should be completed by October, explained Mr Wichai.

Officials have plans to further develop the six Andaman provinces marine infrastructure.

“This port development is one of our projects in the six Andaman provinces. Next year, we will conduct a feasibility study at Pak Meng Port in Trang and two ports in Krabi: Rai Lay and Nam Mao,” said Mr Wichai.

As for Phuket, officials have asked for a 240-million-baht budget to build an airport-to-Patong “sea taxi” and develop Palai Port (story here).

“The two Phuket projects are marked for the 2015 fiscal year budget; they have yet to be approved,” he said.

— Chutharat Plerin

Phuket News

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