PHUKET: The Phuket regional marine office is upgrading its fourth privately-run pier into a smart pier to facilitate better tourist services.
Nachapong Pranit, the office director, said marine authorities are collaborating with concerned agencies, including the Digital Economy Promotion Agency (Depa), to turn Ao Chalong pier into a smart pier costing about 60 million baht.
Currently, Phuket has three smart piers — Ao Por Pier, Visit Panwa Pier and Rassada Pier, with Ao Por Pier being Thailand’s first smart pier.
Mr Nachapong said digital solutions are applied at the smart piers to improve tourism service standards and enhance safety, boosting tourist confidence in travelling.
He said the marine office will seek cooperation from operators of the other piers run by state agencies and private operators in improving services and safety.
The official said the island province has 18 piers and five marinas servicing 40,000 passengers per day during high season. That number drops by half during other periods of the year.
Mr Nachapong said several business operators are interested in developing new marinas at Ao Makham, Ao Kung and Mai Khoa, and proposed development plans are being reviewed.
He added that business operators support a cruise terminal development project because the island is a popular stop for cruise liners passing through the region.
He said the provincial marine office and the local maritime tourism industry recently organised a workshop for some 100 boat service operators and crew to prepare for the upcoming high season.
Mr Nachapong said that boat service operators and crew were strongly urged to study navigation rules, review operations standards, inspect communications tools and safety gear, and strictly comply with instructions related to storm warnings.
“Safety is one of the measures that can boost tourist confidence,” he added.
He added that marine officials in Phuket, Krabi and Phangnga have also drawn up operations standards to ensure tour boats’ safety. As part of that, tour boat trips must notify their region’s maritime traffic and safety centre of their trips.