City, tourism officials blast Hua Hin ferry proposal

Friday, 14 September 2012 From Issue Vol. XX No. 37 By  Phasakorn Channgam

City officials and tourism-industry executives slammed a Marine Department proposal to launch a new public ferry service between Pattaya and Hua Hin, saying the project lacks a profitable business plan and would not boost tourism significantly.

Summarizing an initial feasibility study on the plan, Marine Department Deputy Director Nat Jabjai and Chulalongkorn University Assistant Professor Jakrarit Duangpasstra told the Pattaya Business & Tourism Association that a ferry would cut two hours from the drive time to Hua Hin and ferry both passengers and cargo between the two cities.

Marine Department Deputy Director Nat Jabjai (left) and Chulalongkorn University Assistant Professor Jakrarit Duangpasstra (right) address the PBTA about a proposal to launch a new public ferry service between Pattaya and Hua Hin. Marine Department Deputy Director Nat Jabjai (left) and Chulalongkorn University Assistant Professor Jakrarit Duangpasstra (right) address the PBTA about a proposal to launch a new public ferry service between Pattaya and Hua Hin.

Pattaya City Councilman Sanit Boonmachai, representing the Pattaya Tour Boats Club, blasted the project’s financials, however, saying “It lacks a clear break-even point because the capital required for boats, gas and other expenses would be high and the group of tourists opting for this mode of transportation is still limited.”

Sanit also criticized the project’s safety plans, saying the ferries lacked safety standards and no contingencies for on-water emergencies were made.

Bundarik Kusolvitya, president of eastern chapter of the Thai Hotels Association, said the project would not meet the government’s goals of boosting tourism revenue to 2 trillion baht by 2015.

“Only a certain group would benefit from this project,” she said. “If the Marine Department and its researchers insist on continuing with this project, there must be improvements, such as a standard pier, standardized boats and convenient and safe travel.”

Marine Department officials quickly backpedaled, saying the project was only in the “information gathering” stage and they would continue to study the project before moving forward.

Pattaya has seen ferry services to Hua Hin in the past, all of which went bankrupt. Most recently, a privately owned catamaran ferry service called Thailiving closed in December after failing to attract enough customers to fill three weekly crossings during its 13 months of operation.

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