CHON BURI: The Pattaya Marine Office is laying chains of buoys in Pattaya Bay to clearly differentiate areas for water traffic and other activities, to improve marine safety and build tourist confidence.
The plan has been dubbed the Pattaya Model for safety at sea. Work began in 2015 and funding has now been allocated for the third and final stage, to begin next year.
Ekarat Khantharo, director of the Pattaya Marine Office, said water traffic in Pattaya Bay is very heavy, particularly between Pattaya and Koh Lan, a major tourist island.
There were more than 1,500 passenger and tour boats operating within an area of only four square kilometres, he said.
Since 2017, the number of visitors to Pattaya had risen steadily to about 10 million per year. Although numbers had plummeted with the Covid-19 epidemic, they were expected to recover.
About half of the 10 million tourists made boat trips to islands and also spent a lot of time indulging in other water activities. Therefore, safety was most important in building visitor confidence in Pattaya as a holiday destination.
With this in mind, the Marine Department drew up the plan for the "Pattaya Model", which gives emphasis to regulating water traffic. All boat operators were required to have a proper understanding of marine navigation laws, to international standards, to ensure safety, Mr Ekarat said.
Buoys of different colours were being laid in Pattaya Bay. They indicate speed limits, divide zones for water activities and mark navigation paths.
Implementation started in 2015 and is ongoing. The first phase was funded with a 29 million baht budget from the Ministry of Sports and Tourism, and the second with 59 million baht from Pattaya City.
Implementation of the third stage would begin in 2021, with 69 million baht from the government's Eastern Economic Corridor project, the Pattaya Marine Office director said.