The Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration (DASTA) has signed a memorandum of understanding with Phetchaburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan Provinces on tourism zoning.

Under a sustainable-tourism plan, four zones are to be established: high-end beach, family beach, agricultural tourism, and eco-tourism.  One of the objectives is to promote Hua Hin, Cha-am and Pak Nam Pran as high-end beach destinations to attract foreign tourists. Hotels will be asked to join the scheme by upgrading their facilities.

This area has a competitive advantage over other places, offering various tourist attractions including mountains, beaches, palaces, and royal projects.  The tourism position is far different from those of busy Pattaya and Phuket, which have focused more on entertainment and nightlife.

The signing ceremony was held in December 2013 in Cha-am. Prachuap Khiri Khan Governor Weera Sriwathanatrakoon and Phetchaburi Governor Monthian Thongnit attended the event, along with Dr Nalikatibhag Sangsnit, DASTA’s Director-General. The three vowed to work more closely, especially with local communities, to promote the area’s simplicity and sustainability of its tourist allure.

Dr Nalikatibhag said the area’s development would be completed via a 10-year strategic plan. Improvements in infrastructure and city landscapes would a focus. DASTA is looking for a place in Cha-am to set up an office to work with local communities more closely and push ahead future projects.

Tourism in Hua Hin and Cha-am has grown quickly but could develop without clear direction. The two areas have encountered problems such as garbage, environmental damage, shortages of parking, and congestion in some tourism areas.

Details of the strategic plan will be clearer in the new year. A tourism slogan will be chosen that will differentiate the area from other destinations. Local people are proud of hosting the King’s summer palace and 70 Royal Projects, claimed to be the highest number in Thailand. This will be cited in the promotional slogan.

According to DASTA, about 2.46 million tourists visited Hua Hin last year and about 2.1 million went to Cha-am.

Hua Hin was the country’s 11th-largest contributor of tourism revenue last year, and Cha-am No 12, with about Bt9.21 billion (1.14 per cent of the total) and Bt8.85 billion (1.09 per cent) respectively.

Nartnadda Nitibhon, Secretary of the Phetchaburi Tourism Association, welcomed DASTA’s move and said it would boost tourism in both Hua Hin and Cha-Am. She hoped it would help attract tourists who like a simple lifestyle and also increase tourism revenue in the two areas.

Currently 70 per cent of tourists in the area are Thais. The average Thai tourist stays one night with a total spending of Bt2,000.

The average foreigner spends four nights, spending per head per day Bt3,000. There are about 16,000 rooms in total in the region.