Surat Thani: Tourism business operators on Koh Samui are urging the government to press ahead with plans to promote the island as a wellness destination and connect Khanom district in Nakhon Si Thammarat province to Koh Samui via a bridge.
Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakan and organisations over the weekend paid a visit to Koh Samui to this southern province to discuss the tourism situation.
Wanwalee Tantikarn, president of the Samui Spa Association, backed the plan to push Koh Samui as a health resort or wellness destination.
"Many tourists are now paying more attention to their health. If Koh Samui becomes the country's premier health and wellness destination, it will draw more tourists. This will benefit local people as they will have more health treatment options as well," she said.
The group also talked about a prospect of building a bridge connecting Khanom district in Nakhon Si Thammarat province to Koh Samui to provide a new transport option.
The bridge might also help reduce the cost of living in Koh Samui as all shipping and transport could be done via road. It will not only offer a new travel option to the island but also provide a more convenient route for locals, Witthaya Thongsuk, president of the Samui Association, said.
Mr Phiphat said the bridge's construction would be supervised by the Transport Ministry, which has conducted a survey into the proposal.
The report found that a bridge would benefit people in Koh Samui, Koh Tao, Koh Phangan and those who live on the mainland and be worth the initial outlay.
Mr Phiphat said revenue from tourism might reach only 1.2 trillion baht this year, a drop from 1.5 trillion baht before the pandemic.
However, there are hopes the industry can bounce back as restrictions continue to be lifted.