Cabinet mulls master plan for marine safety
New specialised centre envisioned this year
The Tourism and Sports Ministry has presented a new master plan to improve safety in marine tourism to the cabinet, featuring a new Marine Surveillance and Assistance Centre to offer better protection to tourists.
Tourism and Sports Minister Weerasak Kowsurat said the ministry submitted the plan for consideration at the mobile cabinet meeting in Chumphon and Ranong this week.
The plan was outlined in response to the boat incident in Phuket last month that killed 47 Chinese tourists, sparking concern among foreign tourists over marine safety in Thailand.
The minister said the Marine Surveillance and Assistance Centre will be set up and funded by fiscal 2019, which starts in October.
The centre will ensure confidence among tourists by integrating surveillance and assistance on all marine matters, including area management, budget, tools and equipment, technology and personal, disaster prevention and mitigation, safety and security, and establishing best practices for safety and quality precautionary training.
Mr Weerasak said Phuket has also renovated 24 ports and piers around the island, appointing a manager at each port to supervise safety measures and make boat inspections.
The 24 ports and piers are improving standards to include CCTV systems and warning signs for the public. A mobile operating unit has also been set up to perform random checks on boats and passengers heading out on Andaman Sea excursions.
Moreover, operational and system management software that can connect with individual boats to receive the latest information on passengers and routing is also being implemented across Phuket.
At Chalong Pier, safety measures have been stepped up to increase capacity to serve the public and improve the province's tourism image.
More pontoons and moorings are also being installed to cater to the increasing number of boats in Chalong Bay.
The boat that collapsed on July 5 had departed from Chalong Pier.
Mr Weerasak said the new measures and investments are necessary to ensure Phuket's continued attractiveness to tourists.
The minister visited Phuket over the past weekend to oversee the progress made in improving marine safety and security for tourists around the popular resort island.
Mr Weerasak earlier discussed how best practices could be applied for marine safety with operators.
Recommendations generated from the discussion were in three categories: preparation measures, crisis management measures and post-crisis relief measures. All have been added to the master plan presented to the cabinet.
Phuket is a major tourism destination, visited by over 9 million people a year.