Cruise trade 'can float economic boat'

Cruise trade 'can float economic boat'

Each ship 'generates up to B20m per day'

Scholars have suggested the government bolster the economy by exploiting cruise-related businesses, with statistics showing passengers from each liner spending 20 million baht a day while in Thailand.

The suggestion comes as the government presses ahead with a plan to develop marinas and large ports in Phuket to better serve foreign tourists arriving there on yachts and cruise ships.

The lucrative earnings from cruise tourism were cited by researchers from the National Institute of Development Administration (Nida)'s Graduate School of Tourism Management on Thursday as they revealed the findings of a study on the behaviour of this specific group of seafarers.

The 20-million-baht figure comes from the spending of between 2,000 and 3,000 people aboard each liner, according to Paithoon Monpanthong, who led the research, which was conducted to draft a strategy on cruise tourism management.

"Each tourist spends about 6,000 baht a day on average while the crews fork out around 1,000 baht daily," he said, referring to information his group obtained from the Cruise Lines International Association.

The money is paid to tourism and transport businesses, generating revenue across several sectors, he said.

Most tourists do not hesitate to splash the cash, which illustrates an "interesting aspect of cruise tourism we should pay heed to," Mr Paithoon said.

Their behaviour corresponds with an observation on yacht and cruise-ship travellers in Phuket, made by Phuket Marine Office chief Wiwat Chitchoetwong.

They have plenty of money to spend during their stay on the island, he said.

Throughout the year, over 15 million tourists arriving on the island from yachts and cruise liners play a key role in generating 20 billion baht through marina and related businesses, according to a tourism industry source.

However, Mr Paithoon admitted, there are some things that need to be addressed to enable Thailand to take full advantage of these benefits.

On a global scale, cruise businesses "grow proportionally," but in Thailand, they "grow with uncertainty," with the number of liners rising and falling each year, he said.

"This does not correspond with the current situation worldwide," Mr Paithoon said.

Among the reasons are the availability of proper infrastructure and enough berths for cruise ships paying a vsit.

Other countries like Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Korea and Japan have developed modern facilities to serve these ships better, he said.

Mr Paithoon said his research can help the government by providing information on cruise tourism management.

However, even though the theory is sound, Mr Paithoon is still not confident strategies provided will be put into practice effectively.

"We have found some problems that could arise such as there being too many stakeholders," he said.

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