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Phuket: Operators say B100m tourism business threatened by shallowing channel

Phuket: Operators say B100m tourism business threatened by shallowing channel

THAILAND: Tour boats headed for Koh Chang and Koh Pyam islands are being impeded by repeated silting of the channel used for access to Pak Nam pier in Ranong town, endangering a 100-million-baht tourism business.

Sunday 4 November 2012, 06:03PM

A final solution apparently involves more than mere dredging – which may have adverse impact on the densely populated community living beside the channel – and thus involves local politics.

According to Ranong Tourism Business Association president Sonjai Ouytekkeng the silting problem is a disaster for business.

“The Koh Pyam pier, behind Pak Nam police station, is becoming shallower and shallower, creating big problems for boats trying to leave or get into the pier. Boats cannot get in or out on time at ebb-tide.”

When that happens, he explained, “Tourists must be taken to other piers, leaving them confused as to their whereabouts and making a mess of other activities they have scheduled.”

Sonjai said the channel in question is more than one kilometre long. “The community along its banks is thickly populated, so that if it is dredged and a permanent channel made it may cause problems for them. Before any work is done we have to talk.

“Another solution to the problem may be to use tambon Ngao’s Ton Son pier, which is being discussed. It’s only a little outside Ranong town. We can use songtaews (pick-ups converted for public transport) to take guests back and forth.

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“Whatever the solution, the current circumstances constitute a problem of significant proportions for Ranong’s tourism business. The relevant agencies must together and hammer out a solution before the situation deteriorates further, because Koh Chang and Koh Pyam are visited by Europeans and Americans who bring in more than B100 million to this province during tourist season.”

An anonymous tourism operator noted that boats are prevented by shallow water from reaching the pier more than ten days each month. “In that case we have to go rent space at the fishing quay, meaning additional costs.”

“Whenever the channel is dredged, it quickly silts-up again with sand and dirt, and the problem recurs.” He added that, to reduce adverse impact on tourism to the islands, “I’d really like to see this problem cleared up.”

It was not reported whether local politics would allow for a solution anytime soon.

–Source: Manager Online

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