Yachting industry buoys Thailand’s east coast tourism

The annual Ocean Marina Pattaya Boat Show is expected to draw thousands to Thailand's east coast

The eighth edition of the Ocean Marina Pattaya Boat Show, which takes place from November 21 to 24, 2019, at the Ocean Marina Yacht Club (OMYC), is expected to drive yachting tourism on Thailand’s east coast.

“Ocean Marina Pattaya Boat Show is one of our signature marine events and has grown considerably since its launch in 2012. Visitors reached almost 6,000 last year and were up 5 per cent year-on-year, while overall numbers are up 183 per cent since year one,” said Napong Paripontpochanapisuti, managing director of Ocean Property, which co-organises the Ocean Marina Pattaya Boat Show.

He added: “We invest more than 10 million baht (US$3.2 million) each year in developing the show and marketing it overseas and throughout Thailand, and we are targeting a 20 per cent growth in the number of visitors this year. Our aim is for the show to be a platform for the industry, to promote marine-related businesses and services, yachting tourism, and showcase the stunning coastline and islands along Thailand’s east coast, as well as introducing the boating lifestyle to more Thais.”

Last year, the Ocean Marina Pattaya Boat Show reaped revenues of 2.5 billion baht for Thailand’s marine industry. Although Thailand’s tourism is currently experiencing a dip, the east coast’s future looks bright with yachting tourism expected to contribute significantly to the tourism sector.

“The first four months of the year were very strong, and although visitors during May and June have tapered off, the total number of tourists joining boat trips at OMYC in H1/2019 is up 2 per cent year-on-year. Chinese and Korean tourists remain the top day trippers but what is encouraging is the number of Thais who are enjoying time on the water – Thai nationals were our third largest nationality in H1/2019,” said Scott Finsten, harbour master of OMYC, which co-organises the Ocean Marina Pattaya Boat Show.

This bodes well for yachting tourism on the east coast. With its proximity to Bangkok, more Thai people are holidaying on the east coast and many are enjoying the boating lifestyle. Over 70 per cent of visitors to the 2018 Ocean Marina Pattaya Boat Show were Thai and more than 50 per cent of boats berthed at OMYC are Thai-owned.

“Yachting tourism on Thailand’s east coast is relatively undeveloped. Countries such as Greece, which is famous for its established charter industry, and Australia, which has a large population of domestic boat owners, outperform Thailand currently – yet neither have the tourism numbers of Thailand,” said Finsten.

He added: “Thailand expects to welcome approximately 40 million international visitors this year and Pattaya in the region of 14 million – these numbers underscore the huge potential for yachting tourism in Thailand and this is something OMYC are focused on developing.”

At this year’s Ocean Marina Pattaya Boat Show, up to 40 boats will be displayed by leading international boat brands and brokers. These will be complemented by a wide range of marine products and accessories, boat toys and gadgets, luxury properties, super cars and more. Live on-water demonstrations will take place over the four days. There will also be free yacht cruises, sunset cruises, sun downers, fashion shows, pop-up restaurants and a myriad of other family-friendly activities.

Thailand’s east coast has become a leading destination for visitors from around the world and a priority region in which businesses are looking to invest. Planned road, rail and air infrastructure improvements as well as inward investment in the Eastern Economic Corridor project are set to have a significant impact on business and leisure in the region, and the east coast’s marine industry is well positioned to support this growth.

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