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Thailand’s mega tourism projects A boost for regional industry


March 20, 2008

Thailand’s mega tourism projects
A boost for regional industry

Thailand recently announced "mega tourism projects" should give  neighboring countries a chance to co-operate along the lines to attract more international tourists to the region in the not too distant future.

Weerasak Kowsurat, Thailand’s Minister of Tourism & Sports, said the mega tourism projects which will cost some 3 billion baht ($1=31.3 baht) will boost potential of Thailand as a gateway to Southeast Asia.

The first project will focus on an emerging “Civilisation Tourism Route” between the Kingdom of Thailand and the Union of Myanmar. It would be advisable to develop the northern city of "Chiang Mai" as the departing point to Myanmar after having seen the world heritage sites of "Ayutthaya" and "Sukhothai" in the central part of Thailand.

There are already international flights with Air Mandalay from Chiang Mai to Mandalay and Yangon. From both cities, the old city centre of "Bagan" can easily be reached and trips on the mighty Ayeyarwadi River arranged to the lesser developed cities of Myanmar, such as "Pyay" further south or "Bhamo" in the north of the country. From Bhamo, it would be easy to reach the Chinese province of Yunnan through the back door.

The second project will focus on “Eco-Tourism” whatever this term means. It seems natural that the whole southern part of Thailand should be included in this scheme with a sound transition into the jungles, beaches and islands of Malaysia. A potential "cruising tourism" could be easily developed by using the many natural port cities both along the coast of the South China Sea in the east as well as the Indian Ocean in the west.   

The third project will focus on Thailand's “Riviera Route” which will channel tourists from Bangkok along the Sukhumvit Highway via Pattaya, Rayong, Chanthaburi and Trat into the southern part of Cambodia and finally to reach Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. Along the way, tourists can stop at the scenic towns of Koh Kong, Sihanoukville, Kampot and Kep in Cambodia and Ha Tien, Can Tho and My Tho in Vietnam. A continuous highway is in the stage of completion with 5 new bridges to cross on the way from Trat in Thailand to Sihanoukville in Cambodia - both cities with an own domestic airport.

The fourth project will focus on the mighty and mysterious “Mekong River” which ideally connects the peoples of Yuennan/China, Myanmar, Lao PDR, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. Within the framework of the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) and mainly sponsored and supported by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) based in Manila/Philippines, the Mekong River will be further bridged at Chiang Khong/Huei Sai and Nakhon Phanom/Tha Kaek to facilitate increasing tourism traffic between Thailand and Lao PDR.

The fifth and final project will focus on the ancient “Thai-Khmer Cultural Route” which will highlight ancient Khmer sanctuaries, such as "Phanom Rung" and "Phimai" in Thailand's I-san region to be connected with "Angkor" in Cambodia. The geographical hot spot to develop in this context is the town and province of Surin, which will be a new entrance gate to the temples and tourism sites in Northern Cambodia. Besides, there is the development of the "Emerald Triangle" which includes tourism sites, such as "Khao Phra Viharn" in Cambodia and "Wat Phu" in Lao PDR further in the east.

All in all, it seems that these five mentioned and targeted mega tourism projects are worthwhile to promote and all should be supported by the public as well as the private sector accordingly.       

by Reinhard Hohler, Chiang Mai, Thailand


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