Phuket seeks special administrative zone status for tourism boost

Image courtesy of PR Phuket.

Phuket’s Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT) Region 11 branch, led by Wirintra Paphakityotphat, has made four formal requests to Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin. The topmost request is to elevate Phuket to a Special Administrative Zone.

The requests were submitted to PM Srettha during his visit to Phuket on Friday, April 19.

The purpose of these requests, presented at the Heroines Monument while discussing the underpass to be built there, is to raise Phuket’s tourism standards to international levels.

The primary request is to establish Phuket as a special economic zone for the tourism industry.

The council seeks a budget allocation of 1-5% of the revenue from Phuket’s service and tourism sector currently remitted to the central government. The Department of Tourism under the Ministry of Tourism and Sports would be responsible for ensuring compliance with any requirements.

Notably, Phuket saw 11.3 million visitors in 2023, a significant uptick post-pandemic, according to the Ministry of Tourism and Sports.

Special administrative zone

Most of the visitors were foreign (75%), contributing to a tourism income of at least 388 billion baht.

Earlier this year, in January and February, Phuket received around 2.4 million tourists, marking a year-on-year growth of 38%.

Ahead of his visit to Phuket, the 62 year old Thai prime minister, on April 18 in Bangkok, stated that he had not received any formal requests from Phuket City Municipality regarding the consideration of Phuket as a special administrative zone.

PM Srettha assured that if such a request were to be received, it would be carefully considered after gathering opinions from all sectors.

Regarding Phuket’s potential as a special economic zone, the Bangkok-born prime minister emphasised the importance of evaluating its alignment with tourism objectives and the types of businesses suitable for a tourism-centric area.

The second request made by the TCT Region 11 branch concerns the construction of a community marina or marine transportation service around Phuket.
This involves ten piers with a budget of 300 million baht, aimed at expanding transportation options, reducing congestion on land, and increasing income for residents.

The third request is for the approval of a 397.524 million baht budget for a project to improve traffic management in Phuket through an AI system. The Phuket Provincial Office would be responsible for this project.

Lastly, the request was made for the central government to assist small hotels and approve environmental protection measures within Phuket by the end of April. This is in line with a draft announcement from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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