With a budget of 60 million baht (US$1.6 million) allocated for a new infrastructure project, Surat Thani province in southern Thailand has been given the go-ahead by the Marine Department to begin construction on a new pier in Chaiya district to help boost the local economy.
Surat Thani governor, Witchawut Jinto, explained that the project was conceived to take travellers interested in authentic experiences to cultural hot spots, such as the Wat Phra Borommathat Chaiya and Wat Suan Mokkhaphalaram, as well as the Ban Phum Riang craft centre, where guests can explore traditional textile manufacturing techniques and the secrets of the Muay Chaiya, a regional variation of Muay Thai boxing.
In addition, the new pier, which has yet to be given an official completion date, is also expected to increase connectivity to popular tourist locations like Koh Phangan, Koh Samui, and Koh Tao.
Discussing the infrastructure project, a general manager of a luxury hotel nearby expressed enthusiasm for the pier and its knock-on effects, but with one proviso.
“I would be very happy if local businesses are able to attract more visitors once the pier has been built. Creating more access to authentic Thai cultural activities will enhance the country’s reputation as a cultural tourist destination – but I hope the implementation of the project will include guidelines for the preservation of the local habitat and maintain sustainability and authenticity.”
However, contrary to the Surat Thani governor’s hopes for the wider area, Susan Field, owner of Tembo Beach Club & Resort on Koh Samui, thinks the island will not gain much from the new pier.
“I cannot see any benefit for people looking to travel to Koh Samui as the island is already close to the airport. I think it offers more for tourists to Surat Thani region,” she said.