Hua Hin aims to become “World Class City of Relaxation”

A tourist at the Khao Hin Lek Fai viewpoint. File photo

Plans have been revealed to promote Hua Hin and Cha Am as “The World Class City of Relaxation” in a bid to attract high spending, so-called ‘quality’ tourists.

The plans were outlined during a ceremony which saw the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Hua Hin Municipality and Silapakorn University, which will provide academic assistance in the form of research and consultancy services for the project.

Attending the ceremony was Hua Hin Mayor, Mr. Nopporn Wutthikul; Assistant Professor Chaichan Thawornvej, President of Silpakorn University; and Mr. Krot Rojanasathien, Chairperson of the Thai Chamber of Commerce’s Health Service Business Strategy Committee and President of the Thai Spa Association; and Mrs. Kulpramote Wannalert, Group Director, Marketing Operations Europe, Africa, Middle East, and Americas.

The plans follow on from a previous announcement made in January from the government’s Centre for Economic Situation Administration for Hua Hin and Cha Am to become Thailand’s ‘Wellness Sandbox’ and a hub for medical tourism.

However, while “The World Class City of Relaxation” project also aims to develop Hua Hin and Cha Am as destinations for medical and health care, the project will see the area become a so-called ‘smart city’ with technology, safety and sustainability, both from an environmental and economic standpoint put at the forefront of the region’s development.

It may be hard to imagine now, but officials say the project will see the image of Hua Hin and Cha Am change from quaint beachside destinations to ones of a modern medical tourism hub that not only meets but exceeds global standards.

There are also plans for significant changes in terms of governance.

Currently Hua Hin is governed by a district municipality, but under the new project, plans are being drafted that would see Hua Hin formally recognised as a city with a special administration for tourism.

Hua Hin Today understands that officials see it as imperative that a new form of governance is established if Hua Hin is to move its tourism industry forward.

The change in governance structure would see an increase in finances which would enable Hua Hin to further develop its tourism industry, with its new focus on health, medicine and sustainability.

Officials say the plan to develop Hua Hin and Cha Am as medical tourism destinations is in line with the growing international trend for medical and health tourism – a sector which is expected to grow 9.9 percent globally.

Currently in Thailand, medical tourism accounts for approximately 8 percent of tourism revenue and is expected to continue to grow in line with Thailand’s tourism industry, which on average grew 12 percent annually pre pandemic, according to KPMG.

And while officials say Hua Hin has always attracted excellent quality tourists, such as long-stay tourists and retirees, who generally speaking have high purchasing power, the new focus will also be to attract socially and environmentally conscious travelers who are prepared to spend more and who value experiences.

As well as health tourism, the new focus will be on tourists who will also have higher purchasing power to spend on experiences such as culture and culinary tourism, health and wellness, sport and adventure.

An MOU between Hua Hin Municipality and Silapakorn University as part of the The World Class City of Relaxation project.

The development of Hua Hin and Cha Am as “The World Class City of Relaxation” will coincide with the various infrastructure and transportation improvements that are currently underway in the region, such as the development of the airport at Bo Fai, the dual track rail line and the new motorway linking Cha Am and Nakhon Pathom.

Officials also stressed the importance of cooperation from all sectors if the project is to meet its goal in making Hua Hin and Cha-am world-class medical and health tourism destinations.

Special emphasis was made from both the private and public sectors to put staff training and development at the heart of the project.