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Thai Riviera

Exclusive holiday strip planned along Gulf coast

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The government plans to unveil a high-end tourism campaign in the coastal western provinces, which it said would help boost the income of locals in the region.

Tourism and Sports Minister Weerasak Kowsurat said on Sunday that Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak instructed the ministry to unveil the "Riviera Thailand" campaign.

The Thaksin-era plan for a 'Riviera Thailand' covers the west coast from Phetchaburi to Chumphon.

"A riviera would highlight the beauty and luxury of the tourist attractions," Mr Weerasak said.

Areas along the coastline in these provinces normally serve the rich or business people, while locals live further inland, he said.

"I have advised Mr Somkid that the Riviera Thailand project should include community tourism," Mr Weerasak said.

Links between local tourist attractions must be in place so that income from tourism would be distributed to the villagers, in line with the government policy of using tourism to tackle social inequality, the minister said.

Construction of a 680km road along the coastline, which will include bike lanes, is expected to be completed in five years. About 200 kilometres of the road have been completed. A 49km stretch is under construction.

The Riviera Thailand project originated under the Thaksin Shinawatra administration, but was shelved after his government was ousted in the 2006 coup.

The plan laid out at that time involved three zones. The first features high-end attractions within 50km of Hua Hin airport. The second concerns the natural tourism spots within 100-200km of Prachuap Khiri Khan. The third concerns areas for water activities between Prachuap Khiri Khan and Chumphon. 

The Riviera Thailand project is expected to be tabled to a mobile cabinet meeting in Phetchaburi tomorrow.

During the meeting, the National Economics and Social Development Board is also expected to propose a four-year development plan for the lower Central Plains, covering Samut Songkhram, Samut Sakhon, Prachuap Khiri Khan and Phetchaburi.

The 1.8-billion-baht plan involves the development of the agricultural, industrial, food and tourism sectors.

Mr Weerasak said the cabinet will be asked to give ideas on tourism promotion schemes in the four provinces to cater to tourists who travel to the region by the Bangkok-Hua Hin high-speed train in the future.

The 94 billion baht, 211-kilometre high-speed rail project has been put under the public private partnership scheme's fast-track. Construction is expected to take three years.

Meanwhile, the 420km dual track railways from Nakhon Pathom to Chumphon as well as the new project from Chumphon-Songkhla -- to be proposed tomorrow as well -- will also serve to promote tourism on the western coast of the country.

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Vocabulary:

distribute : to give something out to many different places - แจกจ่าย

fast-track (adj.): operating quickly, doing the job without delay -

high-end : expensive and of high quality; having a lot of money to spend - มีคุณภาพ

in line with : following a rule or system; also in accordance with and consistent with - สอดคล้องกับ

inequality : a situation in which people are not equal because some groups have more opportunities, power, money etc than others - ความไม่เสมอภาค

shelve : to decide not to use something such as a plan or suggestion now, although you may use it later - เลื่อนไปก่อน

table : to suggest formally in a meeting - เสนอเรื่องเข้าที่ประชุม

tackle : to make an organised and determined attempt to deal with something - จัดการ, รับมือ

unveil : to announce something that was not known before - เปิดเผยข้อมูล

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