Under a comprehensive master plan prepared by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, the provinces of Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khirikhan, Chumphon and Ranong will be upgraded under the “Thailand Riviera” scheme to tap their full potential for natural, cultural, historical, gastronomic, sports and community-based tourism.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) will spearhead the marketing push of the area, with the focus on generating tourism revenue for the residents, communities and local businesses in the four coastal provinces. The Thai government and related agencies will be closely involved in all aspects of tourism management, conservation and restoration, in line with the policy direction of the National Tourism Development Plan to more equitably distribute income nationwide, upgrade rural areas, provide better accessibility, and improve facilities and services for visitors. The master plan shows that the four provinces have diverse tourism assets such as national parks and water parks, 528 kilometres of coastline, beaches, bays, and islands; 70 royal projects and royal Initiatives; Man-made attractions include golf courses, theme parks, numerous community malls/outlets and a variety of sports tourism facilities suitable for water sports, triathlons, marathons, tennis, swimming and biking.
Hua Hin, the best known beach resort in the region, also holds an annual Jazz Festival, alongside a boundless choice of culinary fare and gastronomic delights. There is also more than adequate transportation access: Minister of Tourism and Sports Weerasak Kowsurat stressed that the entire development process must be implemented in a comprehensive, coordinated manner that pays equal attention to economic and ecological issues. For example, inf rast ructure development will be especially important to ensure proper fresh water supplies and prevent water conflicts between the agriculture and tourism sectors. The platform of the Hua Hin Railway Station, a local heritage site dating back to the days when it was used by members of the royal family visiting the Mrigadayavan Summer Palace of King Vajiravudh (Rama VI), will be upgraded to reflect its unique design and architecture.
The plan also mentions opportunities for visitors to enjoy the local seafood, adventure activities and ecotourism, and the development of night markets, especially for local artists to showcase their works. Specific niche-market projects will include development of the Thailand Riviera as a “Global Health Tourism Hub”, organisation of world-class sporting events for golf, tennis, shopping festivals, and world-class summer education courses. The visitor experience will be enhanced by upgraded stops at petrol stations with clean toilets, lockers, luggage storage, CCTV and Wi-Fi. The plan has long been in the cards, but implementation was delayed due to successive changes in governments.
It was originally approved by the Thai Cabinet in February, 2006, and again in August, 2014, when the Ministry of Tourism and Sports was given responsibility for executing the plan in an integrated and coordinated matter. Under the current government, the plan was approved once again on March 6, 2018, at the mobile Cabinet meeting in Phetchaburi province. One important part of the project is construction of a scenic 680 km highway from Bangkok, which runs directly along the coastline. The world-class highway, which will include bike lanes, is expected to be completed in five years.
About 200 km have been completed. A 49 kilometre stretch is currently under construction. Riviera is an Italian word which means “coastline” and is typically applied to one that is sunny, topographically diverse and popular with tourists. The two areas currently known in English as “The Riviera” without additional qualification are: The French Riviera (Côte d’Azur) which benefits from 310 to 330 days of sunshine per year, 115 kilometres (71 miles) of coastline and beaches, 18 golf courses, 14 ski resorts and 3,000 restaurants. The Italian Riviera (Riviera ligure), has Genoa at its centre and is famous for its particularly mild climate and relaxed way of life which, together with the charm of its old fishing ports and the beauty of its landscape.
– The Nation