Seven business opportunities at the Thai Riviera
The Southern Economic Corridor as the counter-concept to the Eastern Economic Corridor
The location: The Western Seaboard, a stretch of coastline southwest of Bangkok is going to be transformed into the “Thai Riviera” and “Royal Coast” as the heart of the Southern Economic Corridor. The four coastal provinces Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chumphon, and Ranong, will be transformed into a hub for high-end tourism. The regional cities
- Phetchaburi, only 120 km Southwest of Bangkok,
- Hua Hin with a ferry line to Pattaya,
- Chumphon, the corner of the Thai Riviera at the Gulf of Thailand, and
- Ranong, at the Andaman Sea
will be the hotspots of the Riviera Thailand campaign.
The projects: Although its idea had been developed some years ago, the Thailand Riviera project was dusted off after the cabinet approved a high-speed railway linking Bangkok to Hua Hin. Unlike the “Detroit of the East” in the EEC, the Thai Riviera will attach the greatest importance to economic and ecological balance. Main elements of the Thai Riviera Master Plan as prepared by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports (“TRMP”) are
- 25 national parks and water parks
- 37 beaches, 10 bays, and 25 islands
- 70 Royal projects and Royal Initiatives
- 6 community-based tourism projects.
The opportunities: Famed for its azure waters, glamorous jet set, and marinas full of superyachts, the French Riviera is one of the world’s best-known tourist destinations. Nice, St Tropez, and Monte Carlo are the role model for Phet Buri, Hua Hin, Chumphon, and Ranong – and the next five years will show whether the Upper Southern Sub-Regional Plan is a realistic aim.
A brief history of time: From the Western Seaboard to the Thai Riviera
Feb 06: Cabinet approval of Thai Riviera
Aug 14: Cabinet approval of Thai Riviera
06/03/18: Principal Cabinet approval of Thai Riviera
01/06/18: Support of the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO)
21/08/18: The Cabinet approved in principle the Southern Economic Corridor with 28 projects totaling over THB 200 billion.
23/01/20: The government has approved a proposal to develop a special economic zone (SEZ) in southern Thailand Songkhla’s Chana district with a budget of almost THB 19 billion. The SEZ project included the redevelopment of Nathap, Talingchan and Sako’s administrative systems, a water transport network, a deep-sea port, new roads, and a power plant using natural gas, biomass or other renewable energy sources. The project, covering 2,680 ha, is expected to create 100,000 jobs in six sectors.
[Future: Further developments will be reported here.]
Investment opportunities for foreign companies: Go Riviera
#1 Infrastructure: The development of the current infrastructure will cover all existing transportation access possibilities:
- Land: Highway No. 4 (Phetchkasem Road)
- Sea: Ferry Service linking Khao Takiap pier in Prachuap Khiri Khan and Bali Hai Pier, Chon Buri.
- Air: Hua Hin Airport, Chumphon Airport, and Ranong Airport
- Railway: Southern route. The construction of the double-track rail route from Nakhon Pathom-Hua Hin-Prachuap Khiri Khan and Chumphon has already started. There are also plans to add a route to Ranong to make it a hub for ocean transit links with the Bay of Bengal.
This sea link will facilitate trade between countries in the Eastern Economic Corridor and those in Bimstec (The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation), which consists of Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Bhutan.
#2. Environment: The TRMP mentions the necessity to ensure proper freshwater supply and to prevent water conflicts between the agriculture and tourism sector. Other aspects will gain importance during the development phase.
#3. Ecotourism: Sustainable, ecological conservation of relatively undisturbed natural areas, combined with local seafood, adventure activities, artesian markets and other forms of ecotourism might be one of the success formulas for the Royal Coast and offer interesting investment opportunities for foreign promoters and developers under Thailand’s National Tourism Development Plan.
“An overreliance on tourism can be prevented by encouraging the development of a more diversified amenity economy; for example, boutique agriculture, higher education, retirement communities, and medical services.” -Worldbank, December 2006
#4. Health: The Thai Riviera will be promoted as a “Global Health Tourism Hub”. This opens possibilities for high-end medical tourism, combined with sporting events for golf, tennis, shopping festivals, and world-class summer education courses.
#5. Highway: The construction respectively extension of a scenic highway from Bangkok directly along the coastline and a length of 680 km should be completed within five years. Only a 49 km stretch is currently under construction.
“Since the implementation of the Thai Riviera concept will result in a coastal amenity city of approximately one million people, the paper stresses the need for high quality clustered development (necklace urban form) based on public-private partnerships.” -Worldbank, December 2006
#6. Maritime sector: A ferry service connecting Hua Hin with Pattaya is already the easiest way between the West and East coasts of the Gulf of Thailand. The Riviera Thailand project will offer the maritime industry a vast potential for new expansions and innovations. Chumphon will be the location of one of the seven new marina projects. Several opportunities for foreign tourism investments in the maritime sector exist.
#7. High-speed train lines: The planned Bangkok-Hua Hin high-speed railway might be extended from Hua Hin to Surat Thani. PPP biddings might start soon. The Bangkok Post quotes DPM Somkid “to complete the auctions of all the ministry’s planned transport projects before the general election tentatively scheduled for next February”.
How to successfully participate as a foreign company
Thailand is one of the most exciting hubs for contractors in Southeast Asia today, and its construction market is driven by public infrastructure. Free industry updates and professional considerations are available on the firm’s webpage. These posts can provide only a low-resolution snapshot and are neither deemed to be legal advice nor do they result in an attorney-client relationship.
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- Monitoring and short-listing of current government procurement projects
- Purchasing of bidding documents and formal registration of bidder
- Support and assistance in the preparation and timely submission of bids
- Monitoring of the bidding process and Thai developments
- The accomplishment of legal requirements and efficient tax structures
- Overall legal project management in Thailand and continuous reporting
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