Following mobile cabinet meetings in Chumphon and Ranong some years ago, plans were made for the Thailand Riviera Project to upgrade coastal attractions further south from Cha-am and Hua Hin as an extension to these already popular destinations.
Officially named the Royal Coast Project, Thailand Riviera covers the area on the western coast along the Tanao Si Range, Phetchakasem Road and the southern railway. This stretch of coastline between Phetchaburi in the north and Ranong in the south is deemed to have the potential to become an international resort similar to the French Riviera.
At its heart, Thailand Riviera is a sustainable tourism development scheme focused on road and railway travel. Transportation development is a vital component in its implementation, with plans being drawn to improve, expand and connect existing roads. The “sustainable” part of the scheme, however, requires multi-agency coordination and cooperation.
Fresh water resources along the coastline will have to be well-regulated to prevent conflicts from arising between the farm and tourism sectors when demands from the latter grow. New roads will need to be built to ease traffic and allow access to spectacular views along the coastline.
Major train stations will also have to be renovated to make them icons of their districts. As the region’s most popular tourism hub, Hua Hin will have an important role to play in the development of Thailand Riviera, and the majority of local people and enterprises have welcomed the government’s decision to push ahead with the scheme.
However, some tourism industry leaders have proposed that Hua Hin and Cha-am should be connected to ensure adequate tourism capacity and quality, and that royal projects in Phetchaburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan should be part of the attractions.
The government should also aim to attract more Scandinavians, who now make up the majority of holiday makers in Hua Hin and Cha-am, they suggest. As part of a marketing push for Thailand Riviera, the government plans to host an international festival with Hua Hin as the host city. Organising the festival requires close collaboration between Hua Hin Municipality and Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau.
Recently, city officials met with representatives from Cha-am Tourism Business Association and event organisers to discuss ways to ensure the event’s success. Thailand Riviera is a multi-billion-baht
project that has the potential to elevate tourism in Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan and the upper south to another level.
Hua Hin is poised to be a major beneficiary, especially if efforts are made to showcase its distinctive features to the full. The project was first initiated more than 10 years ago but was approved again during a mobile cabinet meeting in Phetchaburi in 2018.