TRAT: Local tourism agencies have urged the government to launch seven projects costing over 3.3 billion baht to enhance local tourism and the livelihoods of residents on Koh Chang, the province’s top tourist spot which attracts over two million visitors a year.
The projects are a road around Koh Chang worth 2.5 billion baht; the Klong Phrao reservoir valued at 418 million baht; a waste-sorting plant costing 61 million baht; a study on wastewater treatment costing 20 million baht; a study on a design of a public sea port to accommodate tourists; the development of a public health service valued at 309 million baht; and a training centre for the tourism industry costing 6.3 million baht.
The propositions were raised by Sakkhasit Mungkarn, secretary-general of the Trat Tourism Council, who was representing local businesses as well as the Trat Tourism Association and a provincial hotels and resorts association.
The proposals were submitted to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha during his visit to Koh Chang on Monday.
In response to the requests, Tourism and Sports Minister Weerasak Kowsurat, who also accompanied the premier on the trip, said the government was willing to consider them.
The state would also gauge public opinion, Mr Weerasak said.
“Do they want a bridge linking the mainland [in Laem Ngop district] to Koh Chang or a road around the island which might turn Koh Chang into a [Thai version of ] Hong Kong — packed with high-rise buildings. This could also result in environmental degradation.
“Or do they want to maintain Koh Chang as a natural tourist attraction which welcomes over 2 million visitors a year with more than 20 billion baht in annual revenues,” he said.
Mr Weerasak cautioned that an influx of construction projects might spoil the natural surroundings, which is a major selling point for tourism. Koh Chang, he said, might grow to resemble Phuket or Koh Samui where the environment and landscape have been degraded.
With regards to the proposed reservoir, Mr Weerasak said the government would have to consider its effect on livelihoods of residents while ways of treatment must be chosen properly as well.