New twist in expo center saga

KATA: The saga over the site for the proposed Phuket International Conference and Exhibition Center (ICEC) took a new turn yesterday morning when Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Region 4 Director Suwalai Pinpradab said she planned to recommend both Saphan Hin and the Phuket International Night Bazaar (PINB) off Chao Fa West Rd to the government as possible sites for the project.

Her announcement came during a meeting yesterday at the Kata Beach Resort, organized by Phuket Chamber of Commerce President Pamuke Archariyachai.

K. Suwalai told the meeting she would make her recommendation to Deputy Prime Minister Suwat Liptapanlop when he visits Phuket on Friday this week.

Talks at the meeting revolved around funding and acquiring a suitable location for the ICEC, which is intended to serve as a landmark for Phuket

K. Suwalai said she would recommend the PINB site despite its distance from the sea. The PINB is being developed inside former Phuket City Mayor Phummisak Hongsyok’s massive Chao Fa City project.

“Even though the [PINB] will not have a sea view, there will be several other attractions there – including duty-free shopping and a large entertainment complex,” she said.

“PINB Managing Director Chintana Daengdej told me she was already in negotiations with investors interested in privately funding the ICEC and that the PINB would have sufficient funding to construct a 3,000-seat facility by next year,” she said, adding that the PINB was also still interested in developing the project with state funding.

During the discussion, K Pamuke stressed the importance of the center. Comparing the project with the majestic Sydney Opera House in Sydney, he said seaside locations such as Saphan Hin and the Deep Sea Port met this criterion.

Phuket Tourist Association President Pattanapong Aikwanich agreed that a site with a sea view was most appropriate, but expressed concern over the Saphan Hin site.

Reclaiming land from the sea and solving the resultant traffic congestion in the downtown area might prove prohibitively expensive, he said.

He also said that the government should drop its insistence on using land already held by the state and should instead be prepared to buy private sector land if necessary in order to acquire the best possible site.

Phuket News

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