Raja Ferry to splash B110m this year at Surat Thani ports
MAI-listed logistics firm Raja Ferry Port Plc will spend 100 million baht in 2019 to expand its new route for Don Sak-Koh Phaluai in Surat Thani and build two ship docks at Don Sak port and one dock at Koh Phaluai port.
Koh Phaluai will be the third destination under Raja Ferry's operations after two islands in the same province, Koh Samui and Koh Phangan.
There will be five ship docks at Don Sak port, up from three now.
Managing director Apichart Chayopas said Raja Ferry will proceed with requesting a maritime licence from the Transport Ministry and conducting an environmental impact assessment (EIA) report.
"We expect to complete the process with the government agencies in the first quarter, and the two new docks will operate in the next two years," Mr Apichart said. "After the operation of the new route, we aim to increase its transport by 10% from the current 1.3 million tourists and 620,000 vehicles a year, but the route to Koh Phaluai is aimed to have 500 visitors a day."
He said Koh Samui and Koh Phangan are popular destinations for local and foreign tourists, while Koh Phaluai is an eco-tourism island for niche travellers.
The local state agency also limits the number of daily tourists on Koh Phaluai.
Raja Ferry has purchased one new boat with capacity for 400 people and 60-65 vehicles.
At present, Raja Ferry has 15 ferries in service to transport tourists, vehicles, consumer products and construction materials.
For 2019 revenue, Mr Apichart expects a flat showing of 676 million baht, as Chinese tourist numbers are projected to decline and the global economy is slowing down.
"Visitors from China are the major volume for Surat Thani, and this contraction is based on a downturn of that country's economy, including a huge impact from the US-China trade war," he said.
With this risk in mind, Raja Ferry will try to increase revenue from the online channel, which targets young and solo travellers.
Mr Apichart expects service through the online channel to account for 10% of Raja Ferry's revenue in 2019.
In addition, the company will focus on new visitor groups from India, Russia, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, including Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.
Founded in 1981, Raja Ferry reported revenue for January to September 2018 of 572.92 million baht, up 6.9%, while net profit in the same period fell by 29% to 23.17 million baht.