Wichai Kumkong, Marine Office 5 director is charge of Phuket, Phang-nga, Krabi, Satun, Trang and Ranong, said watercourses leading to major ports in the six provinces would be improved to meet international standards as part of the Marine Department’s plan to develop 15 watercourses throughout the country.
Emphasis will be given to Tha Ton Son port in Ranong province which will be developed as a deep sea port and upgraded as the hub of marine communication with five other provinces and neighbouring countries.
The port will serve passengers and tourists who arrive Thailand by sea from Singapore, Malaysia and Myanmar and prepare the country for heavier marine traffic after the ASEAN Economic Community is launched, he said.
Mr Wichai said at least 10 million tourists visited the six Andaman provinces each year. About 7 million people or 70 per cent were marine travellers.
“Risks and accidents are high. We must provide safety not only to ships for tourists but also to ferries, cargo ships and fishing trawlers. Marine Office 5 will be responsible for marine transport and travel in the six Andaman provinces,” said Mr Wichai.
Operators of over 5,000 boats for tourists in the six provinces will be instructed to provide safety to passengers and make sure their ships are up to standard, and personnel are well trained and legally registered with the authorities, he said.